Did The Alabama Crimson Tide Use A Banned Substance Before The 2012 BCS National Championship Game?

By Tyler Brett
Matthew Emmons – USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide won their second straight BCS National Championship (and third in four years) with a dominant performance over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The win catapulted Alabama into the realm of some of the great college football dynasties throughout history. But there may be a cloud coming over their celebration in Tuscaloosa as reports have surfaced that claim member of the Crimson Tide team that won the 2012 BCS National Championship may have been using banned substances.

According to a report published by Sports Illustrated, a company may have provided Baltimore Ravens‘ linebacker Ray Lewis with an extract called IGF-1, which is a banned substance, to recover from his triceps injury in October. The feature goes on to detail how the company, S.W.A.T.S. (also known as “Sports with Alternatives to Steroids”) made a pitch to a group of Alabama players right before the 2012 title game against the LSU Tigers, specifically mentioning defensive end Quinton Dial and linebacker Alex Watkins.

The SI feature details how S.W.A.T.S. rep Christopher Key pitched the IGF-1, which he explained worked similar to HGH. The substance acts as a “natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth.” The substance is derived from deer antlers and is delivered in the form of a spray that is used under the tongue. Reportedly, several Alabama players listened to this pitch on the eve of facing LSU and then went out and dominated the Tigers 21-0. Watkins would give a video testimonial six months later talking up the products and their help in winning the title game.

S.W.A.T.S. is a two-man company run out of the back of a gym in Birmingham, Alabama. Neither Key, nor owner Mitch Ross, an admitted former steroid dealer and male stripper, have backgrounds in science but have run into trouble for their practices before.

Key was arrested for trespassing after giving products to an LSU player in his hotel room at the 2010 Senior Bowl. Those charges were later dropped, but Key is still banned from that hotel. Key then gave some products to LSU players prior to the Tigers 9-6 win earlier in the season, which is how he was able to swing a meeting with Tide players before the championship game.

SI obtained video of this meeting from Key who recorded the entire thing with a pen camera. While there is no proof that anyone took the IGF-1 before the game and there is no test for the substance (especially not two years after the fact), what is there to be done?

Alabama officials were unaware about this meeting until now, but they will be forced to take action before the NCAA feels the need to get involved. Will the Tide be stripped of their 2012 BCS National Title a la the USC Trojans in 2006? Will Alabama face sanctions via loss of scholarships? How will this affect the legacy of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide dynasty?

However it plays out, it’s a black eye for college football’s most powerful program and casts a shadow over their accomplishments.

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