Deer antler spray owner apologizes to Ray Lewis


NEW ORLEANS — The owner of a company that manufactures deer-antler spray and says it helps athletes recover more quickly from injuries issued an apology on Friday to the Ravens and linebacker Ray Lewis.

A Sports Illustrated story published this week implied that Mitch Ross, who owns a company called S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternatives To Steroids), provided the spray to Lewis to promote healing of his triceps injury. The spray contains a substance called IGF-1, which is banned under the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Lewis, who was out from the middle of October until the start of the playoffs with the injury, vigorously denied ever using the spray and said he never has failed an NFL test for PEDs.

“I never saw Ray put (the spray) in his mouth,” Ross said in an impromptu news briefing outside the Super Bowl XLVII media center. “I want to apologize to any athletes that this story hurt.”

Ross said he met Lewis in 2008 through former Ravens assistant coach Hue Jackson. He also said he gave other players what he called “chips,” a new technology that he said improves athletes’ performance. The “chips” are not ingested and are not in violation of the league’s PED policy.

“Ray Lewis is a great man,” Ross said. “Hue Jackson is a hero for starting to work with me in 2008. I’m here to tell you that natural IGF-1 rebuilds brain tissue. I did not walk in the Ravens’ door with deer spray. I walked in with chips.”

Ross said his client list included Giants punter Steve Weatherford, but Weatherford denied any connection to Ross.

Weatherford said he has contacted an attorney.

“For eight years, I’ve never put anything that’s banned into my body,” he said. “Some guy comes along and says something like this. It’s just wrong.”

The team defended Lewis last Tuesday, the day the Sports Illustrated story came out.

Ross said another of his clients was Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, the one-time Jets special-teams ace. The team had no comment on Ihedigbo.