Skip to comments.The FDA, Tainted Supplements, and Drug Testing
Posted on 07/29/2013 5:56:04 PM PDT by neverdem
Whenever athletes test positive for steroids, the excuses come flying. My least favorite has always been that they didnt knowingly ingest steroids or other banned compounds. Somehow, the vitamins or protein shakes must have been tainted.
Ive been responsible for many different aspects of managing the use of pharmaceutical products for years and I have always found this excuse to be laughable.
On July 26, the FDA released a statement warning consumer that a vitamin-B supplement has been shown to have two different anabolic steroids methasterone and dimethazine.
The FDA started looking into Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50 when it started receiving complaints from users. These included fatigue, cramping, and muscle aches called myalgia. More concerning were changes in liver tests and cholesterol levels. Also, women using this supplement reported unusual hair growth and missed menses. Men reported low testosterone levels taking steroids reduces the bodys usual testosterone production and sexual dysfunction.
Anabolic-steroid use has been linked to liver failure, breast enlargement, and testicular shrinking in males and to masculinization in women. It is also believed to alter cholesterol metabolism and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Obviously, the fact that consumers are unwittingly being exposed to dangerous steroids is a public-health problem, but I am concerned about another issue: drug testing in professional sports.
The FDA statement just gave a get-out-of-jail-free card to every athlete who has an unexplained test that is suggestive of steroid use. Every athlete will now be able to claim, with the FDA and therefore the U.S. government on his side, that he was the victim of tainted vitamins.
The sports leagues have only one way out that I can see: quickly get the same lab that does their urine testing to do a series of quality tests on common supplements and create a partnership with a few manufacturers whose products can be consistently shown to be pure. Add these to the drug testing policy any supplements not explicitly covered by the policy should be assumed to be dirty and used at the players risk.
These changes need to happen quickly. Every lab with aspirations to be like BALCO or Biogenesis is advising its clients today on how to start adding more steroids into their training regimens and where to get some dirty vitamin B.
2. Trust the vitamin industry to self-regulate ... but businesses haven't displayed any consistency in self-regulation.
3. Trust a third party testing agency to certify vitamins (like UL does for consumer products) ... but third party agencies have been shown in the past to become co-opted by the companies they are supposed to be regulating.
4. Give up and let athletes take whatever they want at their own risk ... but then children will be encouraged to take these drugs as well in order to compete at the level necessary to get into college and professional programs.
5. Pray for an overall increase in human honesty and decency.
I’m wondering if the prayers of a few athletes have just been answered. I mean, shazaam, all of a sudden a lot who have tested positive for steroids just learned that the vitamin they were taking was tainted! And if the government is this sloppy on one vitamin, how sloppy have they been on OTHER products?
A better sports regulatory scheme would be to let the professional athletes decide what drugs/supplements are acceptable and at what dosages. It’s their bodies. Once the rules and enforcement procedures are in place all this nannyism goes away.
They can annually review the medical literature and their own experiences and alter the schedule and doses as needed. This is getting silly.