Did Bama players take banned substance?

Several Alabama players may have taken a banned substance before the BCS Championship against LSU in 2012, Sports Illustrated is reporting.

According to the story, several of the Tide’s defensive players, including defensive end Quinton Dial and linebacker Alex Watkins, met with Christopher Key, a representative for a company called S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids), two days before the title game and were given deer antler extract, a substance that contains the growth hormone IGF-1, which is banned by the NCAA and NFL.

According to SI, the meeting was recorded on video by Key and shown to reporter David Epstein. The article quotes excerpts from the recording as Key tries to convince the Alabama players of the benefits of the deer antler extract:

“You’re familiar with HGH, correct? It’s converted in the liver to IGF-1. IGF-1, or -insulin-like growth factor, is a natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth. We have deer that we harvest out of New Zealand. Their antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth … because of the high concentration of IGF-1. We’ve been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue… . This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years, this is stuff from the Chinese.”

It was not known if the Alabama players actually took the supplement, but in a video posted on YouTube six months later, Watkins touted the benefits he got from the deer antler extract and other substances provided by Key, including metallic chips that reputedly block energy-sapping frequencies from cellphones and “negatively charged water,” which is supposed to prevent dehydration.

Alabama won the game 21-0. The article emphasizes that Alabama coaches did not know of their players’ meeting with Key.

The SI story goes on to say that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis received materials from S.W.A.T. to help speed his recovery from a torn triceps. Lewis was injured Oct. 14 and recovered in time to play in the Jan. 20 AFC Championship game. He will play in the Super Bowl Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

When asked about the report, Lewis denied using any banned substances, and he has not tested positive.

Read the full story on SI.com.