Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
We learned Tuesday that Alabama Crimson Tide football players were being offered banned substances by Sports With Alternatives To Steroids, or SWATS. Now we are learning that the university has known about this for quite some time and is currently dealing with the issue.
According to an official statement from the University’s assistant to the President and the Associate Vice President for University Relations, Deborah Lane, Alabama has sent two cease-and-desist letters and they have fallen on deaf ears.
"“UA has been aware of this situation for some time, and we have monitored this company for several years. They have twice ignored cease and desist letters sent by our compliance office. We have maintained consistent education of our student-athletes regarding the substances in question and will continue to do so.”"
According to the letters released yesterday in response to the article which appeared on by Sports Illustrated, the 2012 cease-and-desist letter was the second letter sent to SWATS by UA. The letter was addressed to co-founder Christopher Key. In the letter, Alabama cites NCAA Bylaws 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168, both of which relates to a student-athletes portrayal or endorsement of commercial products. The letter was apparently in response to YouTube videos that “imply contact with…University of Alabama student-athletes.” The letter also described what action that SWAT must take:
"To comply with NCAA requirements, to protect its current student-athletes and to protect its Indicia, the University requests you immediately cease and desist the use of, or reference to, the University of Alabama or any current University of Alabama student-athletes or Indicia. We further request that you refrain from any future contact with any of our current student-athletes. Any future contact should be directed to the coaching staff, the athletics training staff, or the compliance office."
Another letter was sent in March of 2009 by then-director of compliance Jonathan Bowling, once again citing NCAA Bylaws 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199. This letter was sent to SWATS co-founder Mitch Ross. This letter was apparently in response to phone conversation that Bowling and Ross had four days earlier. The letter was also carbon copied to four other UA Athletics staff members, including head strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran.
The SWATS website, swatsedge.com, has postings for many of its products, including deer antler and other sprays, various performance chips and tablets. The home page contains various links to websites with articles about SWATS, most of them relating to sports organizations cutting ties or banning substances from SWATS.
Alabama isn’t the only organization that is fighting SWATS; the NFL has had to deal with the company as well. It was discovered recently that Ray Lewis was linked to SWATS while recovering from a torn tricep injury that benched him most of the season. Lewis declined to comment on the matter at the Super Bowl media day Tuesday.
The letters can be read here:
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