Assembly to vote on controversial supplements bill

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplements, United states senate, Growth hormone

The California Assembly is expected to vote this week on a
controversial bill that seeks to outlaw the use of ephedrine
alkaloids, DHEA and synephrine by high school athletes in the
state, which has attracted criticism from the dietary supplements

SB 37 is an amendment to the California Education Code introduced by Senator Jackie Speier in December 2004. It would require athletes to pledge not to use the three supplements, which would also be prohibited from being marketed at school-related events.

But the Council for Responsible Nutrition​ (CRN) points out that ephedrine alkaloids are already banned both in California and by the FDA, and that the sale of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) to minors is also restricted in the state.

As for synephrine (also known as bitter orange or citrus aurantium​), it is not restricted by the US Anti-Doping Agency but merely appears on the monitoring list, along with caffeine.

The CRN is urging the California legislature to oppose the bill as it currently stands, since it makes no mention of steroids, growth hormones or illegal drugs.

Rather, it says the bill creates the misimpression that dietary supplements are the problem, and that all or many dietary supplements are unsafe and prohibited by the USADA.

The council shares concern that adolescents who ingest substances banned by the USADA may compete with an unfair advantage and be exposed to health risks, but believes that the bill, in its current form, offers no solution.

If the wording were amended to "performance-enhancing substances"​ in place of "dietary supplements"​ however, the CRN would be behind it.

"We are perplexed as to why Senator Speier wont take the amendment,"​ said Judy Blatman, the CRN's VP for communications. "She has a window dressing without a window."

A spokesperson for Senator Speier told that the bill's detractors are "completely missing the point"​ and reinforced that the bill only relates to minors.

"It addresses supplements that a growing body does not need,"​ she said.

She declined to make any further comment as to why the bill makes no mention of steroids, growth hormones and illegal drugs.

SB-37 has already been passed by the Senate, albeit in an earlier form. If it is passed by the Assembly (at the time of publication expected to be this week) it will return to the Senate for approval of the changes, before being sent to Governor Schwarzenegger for signature.

The Governor then has 30 days within which he may veto it. Last year he vetoed a similar bill, SB 1630, according to the CRN on the grounds that it was too broad.

"I encourage the Legislature to work with my Administration in developing a cost-effective way to ensure school personnel are adequately trained to identify and address the harmful effects of steroids use, so that students can be well informed, and intervention involving parents and coaches can be applied when appropriate."

According to Blatman SB 37 is, in contrast, too narrow.

Related topics: Regulation

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