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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Antler Velvet Hawkers Sue Pro Baseball

(CN) - Two companies that sell deer antler velvet as a diet supplement claim in court that Major League Baseball banned it as a steroid without testing it.

Nutronics Labs and S.W.A.T.S. Edge Performance Chips sued the Major League Baseball Players Association, in Miami Dade County Court.

Deer drop their antlers and grow new ones each spring. Velvet grows on the new ones. The plaintiffs claim the velvet is good for muscles and reduces symptoms of aging.

"On or about July 29th, 2011, relying on reports and rumors, defendant, MLBPA through Bob Lenaghan disseminated a letter title 'MLBPA UPDATE' informing major and minor league players and player agents not to use S.W.A.T.S. Ultimate Sports Spray and warned all players to stop ingesting the deer antler velvet supplement," the complaint states.

"More specifically, defendant MLBPA issued its warning letter about deer antler velvet supplement not because it contains IGF-1, but because the deer antler velvet supplement was 'contaminated' with 'methyl-testosterone,' a banned steroid and added it to the list of 'potentially contaminated nutritional supplements.' Until dissemination of the warning letter issued by defendant, MLBPA, major and minor league baseball players, NFL players, NBA players, PGA golfers, other athletes, actors and consumers worldwide, purchased and consumed the deer antler velvet supplement sold by the plaintiffs as an alternative to banned 'performance enhanced' substances. Subsequently, the information contained in the warning letter made it way into the public domain, including but not limited to the internet and television news reports."

The plaintiffs say they responded with a letter to Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, saying their products do not contain steroids. They say they offered to have their products tested by NSF International, an accredited third party certification body.

"Based on MLBPA's failure to respond to plaintiff's request to have its deer antler velvet supplement tested, plaintiff, Nutronics Labs sua sponte sent a sample of its deer antler velvet supplement for testing to Aegis Sciences Corporation, an independent laboratory company," the complaint states. "Aegis Sciences Corporation laboratory report concluded that there were no steroid contaminants in plaintiff's deer antler velvet supplement."

But the say claim the damage already was done.

Despite the Aegis report, they say, numerous athletes and companies, such as Aquapail and Apollo Global Group, terminated business relationships with them because of the defendant's statements.

The plaintiffs seek actual and punitive damages for libel and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations. They are represented by Francisco Calvo.

It's not the first time S.W.A.T.S. has been accused of selling steroid-contaminated products.

In June 2011, a Federal Court awarded a $5.4 million default judgment to former St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora, who claimed that S.W.A.T.S. sold an "Ultimate Sports Spray" that contained the banned substance methyl testosterone.

Vobora failed a drug test after using the spray and was suspended for four games without pay.

Vobora said he sent the bottle of "Ultimate Sports Spray" for testing and it came back positive for the banned substance.

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