Another athlete mentioned in the SI story, three-time golf major champion Vijay Singh, released a statement Wednesday at the Phoenix Open, acknowledging he used deer-antler spray and saying he wasn’t aware that it may contain a substance banned by the PGA Tour.
Sports Illustrated reported that when it spoke to Lewis for its story, he acknowledged asking Ross for “some more of the regular stuff” on the night of the injury and that he has been associated with the company “for a couple years.”
Lewis’ stance was different Wednesday.
“He told me there’s nothing to it. … He’s told us in the past, he’s told us now, that he’s never taken any of that stuff, ever,” Harbaugh said. “And I believe Ray. I trust Ray completely. We have a relationship. I know this man. And I know what he’s all about. It’s just too bad it has to be something that gets so much play.”
While Lewis did face a handful of questions about SWATS, plus some on-field topics, he never had to deal Wednesday with a single reference to a dark chapter in his life: He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with the stabbing deaths of two men after a Super Bowl party at an Atlanta nightclub in 2000.
“We all in here have a past. You know? But how many people actually dwell into it? You know? Nah, it ain’t about your past. It’s about your future,” Lewis said in response to a question about keeping focused on Sunday’s game.
“And for me and my teammates, I promise you, we have a strong group of men that we don’t bend too much, and we keep pushing forward. So it’s not a distraction at all for us,” he said, raising a clenched fist.
“The trick of the devil is to kill, steal and destroy. That’s what he comes to do. He comes to distract you from everything you’re trying to do. There’s no man ever trained as hard as our team has trained. There’s no man that’s went through what we went through,” Lewis said. “So to give somebody credit that doesn’t deserve credit, that would be a slap in the face for everything we went through.”
Asked about deer-antler spray, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis’ take was, “I don’t think Ray would take any substance.”
Carlos Rogers, a San Francisco cornerback, chuckled when asked about it and what effect the headlines could have on the Ravens.
“I don’t think they’ll get a distraction. I don’t know what to make of that. I heard it was something that can’t be detected. They can’t test (for) it, anyway,” Rogers said. “Him saying that he’s never failed a test, he probably hasn’t failed a test for what they test for.”
Boasting that “you will never fail a drug test from taking our product,” SWATS co-owner Key said the company has sold its products to more than 20 college football players each at Southeastern Conference schools Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, LSU and Georgia.
Alabama has sent two cease-and-desist letters to SWATS, university spokeswoman Debbie Lane said, adding: “UA has been aware of this situation for some time, and we have monitored this company for several years.” Auburn and LSU representatives also said they have asked the company to stay away from students.
AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., contributed to this report.