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There is some evidence that deer antler spray may work for improving performance and physique. However, it seems that an individual needs to take very high doses in order for these benefits to occur. In studies where the supplement was effective, injections of very concentrated extracts were used. Injections may be the most effective, and likely the only, way that deer antler works. This is because IGF-1 is mostly destroyed when it passes through the digestive system. Because of this, swallowing deer antler supplements would practically be useless.
S.W.A.T.S. Fitness and Performance was a dietary supplement company that sold deer antler spray and other products. The owners began distributing their products to NCAA and NFL athletes in 2008. The controversy initially started in March 30, 2009 when Alabama athletic officials sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company's owner that stated: "Refrain from using current student-athletes to endorse products. Refrain from contacting current student-athletes. Refrain from giving or selling products to current student-athletes."  The letter was then sent again in 2012.
In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII we’ve heard a lot about deer antler velvet and the question of whether or not Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis used an extract of it (in spray form) to help heal the triceps muscle he tore in October 2012. This could be a problem for Lewis, since deer antler velvet contains a substance that is banned by the National Football League (NFL).
There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of deer antler velvet from decades of research carried out in Russia, Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This research has given credibility to deer antler velvet’s traditional usage and validated recommendations for its inclusion as an everyday health supplement. Almost 250 papers have been published since 1930 on the manufacture, composition and biochemical effect of deer antler velvet. Studies on deer antler velvet and the corresponding findings are described below.
Now, you’ll probably read a lot about the power of IGF-1 in many reports about Ray Lewis. And while it’s true that IGF-1 is illegal in man-made form, let’s not mistake illegal products (because they are synthetic) with guaranteed amazing results. IGF-1 can have a significant impact on your body, but it’s not that easy to get the levels you need from deer antler. In fact, given what’s in a typical bottle, it is damn near impossible.
"Unlike steroids, which are small, cholesterol-based hormones, protein-based hormones or growth factors can easily be destroyed," he wrote in an email. Cohen guesses that even if you consume high levels of IGF-1, most if not all of the substance would be destroyed after hitting the acid in our stomach and before entering the blood system, which is how compounds we ingest reach the muscles. "This is also why you have to inject insulin instead of just eating insulin pills," he added.
In Asia, velvet antler is dried and sold as slices, or as a powder which may be boiled in water, usually with other herbs and ingredients, and consumed as a medicinal soup. In the traditional commercial trade of Korea and China, whole stick antler velvet is divided into three sections based upon their supposed properties. Although there is an absence of uniform standardization, these sections are known as the wax piece (uppers or tips), the blood piece (middles), and the bone piece (bottoms): the wax piece may be marketed as a growth tonic for children, the blood piece supposedly for joint and bone health, and the bone piece supposedly for calcium deficiency and geriatric needs. Early commercial activity in Russia between the 1930s and 1980s led to the production of an alcohol extract from deer antler velvet marketed under the Russian drug trade name Pantocrin (also pantocrine or pantokrin).