Banned substances have dominated the NFL news cycle of late. Ray Lewis denied using natural, anabolic hormone IGF-1 in the form of deer antler spray even though it's purported to be "just natural science."
Tony Casillas, a defensive lineman on the Cowboys' Super Bowl squads of the 1990s, revealed to 105.3 The Fan in Dallas that players once turned to a medication frequently meant for horses in an effort to expedite that recovery.
"When I heard about deer antler spray, when I heard that, I said, 'That's nothing.' We used to use this stuff called DMSO. That's what veterinarians put on horses, on a muscle," Casillas said. "It's an ointment that's like anti-inflammatory. ... If you're going to talk about the deer antler stuff, we used DMSO and people knew it. Everyone knew about it."
The use of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) goes back to the early 1980s. The anabolic steroid business in professional football is believed to have started with the San Diego Chargers "around 1963 or right in there somewhere."
As Sports Illustrated writer Bil Gilbert noted in a trailblazing 1969 article, "the relationship between pain and sports is ancient and close." Restorative and additive drugs have been around athletics for centuries, and they are not going away.
"My experience," four-time U.S. Olympian Hal Connolly said, "tells me that an athlete will use any aid to improve his performance short of killing himself."
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.