Alabama Football: Deer-Antler Scandal Won't Have Long-Term Effects on Program
Another day, another scandal in college football.
The latest black mark on the sport comes from Tuscaloosa, where the Alabama Crimson Tide are reportedly involved in a performance-enhancing drug scandal just weeks after their huge win in the National Championship over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Alabama players have reportedly been involved with a company known as SWATS (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids), which has been providing certain athletes with deer-antler spray (according to ESPN and reporter Joe Schad).
According to the report, both current and former Crimson Tide players are involved, as well as others from LSU and Auburn.
The report asserts that the spray contains a substance—IGF-1—which is on the NFL's banned list. IGF-1 is the end component from human growth hormone (HGH) as noted by SWATS head man Christopher Key in the ESPN piece:
"You're familiar with HGH, correct? It's converted in the liver to IGF-1," Key explained, according to the Sports Illustrated report. "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 maintains in the report that if tested, the players who took the spray would not fail a drug test, and that the substance only helps to provide additional nutrients in the body that are lost during competition.
Not to worry, Tide faithful. This story is just a blip on the radar for the most dominant college football program of the BCS era.
For starters, this story lacks the necessary evidence to pursue further discipline for the players implicated. Key is the only source mentioned in the story who implicates the SEC schools in the scandals, and all three schools mentioned claim to have sent a cease-and-desist order after learning of his role in their program.
Even if players involved are facing discipline from the governing board of the sport, it won't be enough to make a dent in this program's depth or drive going forward.
Alabama is a machine.
What this will do is force the NCAA to take a closer look at smaller companies like this trying to infiltrate a program from the outside. Unlike cases at SMU in the 1980s and Miami in the early part of the 2000s, Alabama isn't headed for any major review to its program, players or coaching staff.
When it's all said and done, "deer-antler spray" will likely be another laughing matter in this steroid era of professional sports we all live in.
It isn't going to effect Alabama's National Signing Day on Friday. According to 247Sports.com, the Tide still have the No. 1 class in the country, and there have been no major whispers of that changing as the moment of truth approaches.
Should Alabama be worried about this report?
It is what it is. Players are always looking for a competitive edge, and sometimes they make the mistake of getting in with the wrong people.
Right or wrong, the prestige, work ethic and continued success of this program will keep it out of the spotlight. Deer-antler spray will be a thing of the past by the time the Tide hit the field in 2013—maybe even by the annual spring game.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.
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