This is what it's come down to, folks.
Deer-antler spray being used as a performance-enhancing drug.
No matter how many rules and regulations football comes up with, there is always someone a step ahead of the curve out there.
Sports Illustrated came out with an article on Tuesday that connected several Alabama players, as well as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, to deer-antler spray, which contains the banned substance IGF-1.
Christopher Key, a salesman for Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, or SWATS, reportedly told ESPN's Joe Schad on Wednesday that he saw five Alabama players spray the substance he sold them into their mouths.
Former Crimson Tide defensive lineman Quinton Dial, as well as current players Adrian Hubbard and Alex Watkins, were involved in the sales presentation, according to the Sports Illustrated report.
Key compared the spray to human growth hormone (HGH), via SI.com:
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.
Key has been adamant that he's not trying to get any players in trouble and that "the whole idea is to compete without cheating." But, given the spray contains IGF-1, isn't that cheating?
The reality is, no matter how many restrictions the NCAA and NFL impose, there will always be someone with a way to cheat and get away with it. Despite some efforts to clean up its act, the NCAA was taken for a ride by SWATS and several Alabama players. Before the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame, no less.
A "level playing field" these days in the NCAA means the same thing in other major sports leagues: taking the required amount of substances to stay on par with the rest of the competition. It's become a worldwide problem spanning countless sports.
The latest story from Sports Illustrated, combined with the annual recruiting issues, shows that the NCAA is not out of the gutter yet. Even when it tries to do well, there are dangers that lurk beneath the surface and off the field.
The only thing that can stop the rampant circulation of PEDs these days is the athlete himself. Apparently, the athlete can't seem to control himself, and it extends all the way to the top of college football's hierarchy.