Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis adamantly denies using the NFL-banned substance deer antler velvet
, but its sales have skyrocketed since a report detailing its reported role in Lewis' rehab ran earlier this week in Sports Illustrated
Deer antler velvet, harvested for its rich supply of the hormone IGF-1 that restores the body's nutritional balance to enhance athletic performance, came to the foreground Tuesday when a report in the Miami New Times
mentioned it along with other drugs that a South Florida clinic provided to a handful of professional athletes.
Sports Illustrated also reported Tuesday that some football players used a substance taken from deer antler velvet, most notably, Lewis.
Thanks to the publicity sparked by the reports and by Lewis' denial, sales are up, according to Brianne Vaskovardzic, director of marketing for Private Label Nutraceuticals, an Atlanta-based company that makes a deer antler velvet extract spray called "Deer Antler."
"The phones have been ringing off the hook today," Vaskovardzic told ESPN Wednesday. "It's the nature of the industry—when a sports figure speaks positively or negatively about a product, the sales pop."
A staple of traditional Chinese medicine, deer antler velvet is a natural secretion that helps antlers grow. Not only is it banned by the NFL, but also the NCAA and every major professional sports league, according to ABC News.
General public interest in deer antler velvet is also peaking. Google searches for anything about the product and its effects were at the second highest point for the terms since the search engine began monitoring the topic in 2004, according to ESPN.
The last time searches for the substance popped this much was the summer of 2011, when Major League Baseball warned players that use of deer antler velvet is prohibited in the MLB.
Vincent Temis, a sales manager at Wild Miracle, Inc., in Fairfax, Va., which sells three different deer antler products ranging from $34.99 to $59.99, told ABC News over the past few days that sales have increased "probably 50 or 60 percent."
"The publicity increased over the past couple of days and people are wondering if it is really a good product," Temis said.
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