The product, StarCaps, is marketed toward women as a weight management aid and has been on the market in the US for about 25 years. Like the banned herb ephedra before it, StarCaps is used in some athletic circles.
The imputation is that they are used to mask banned diuretics.
StarCaps problem arose when two New Orleans Saints National Football League (NFL) players, Jamar Nesbit and Deuce McAllister, tested positive for Bumetanide after using StarCaps.
Nesbit and McAllister are among a group of players the NFL is investigating for using diuretics. Nesbit is suing StarCaps for lost wages incurred while serving a four-game suspension.
In response, StarCaps issued a statement on its website, saying it had “temporarily suspended shipping of StarCaps pending the results of our investigation.”
“We have referred the matter to our counsel and are taking all necessary steps to ensure that our customers receive product that is safe and effective.”
McAllister said he had been safely using the supplements for more than four years. His own testing had revealed no contamination.
StarCaps New York-based attorney Marc Ullman, of Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, said a full recall was not part of the plan, as no testing had proven the contamination case. It was expected this would take up to three weeks.
"If the product is adulterated with this substance, it's not something we knew about or wanted to have happen and we need to get to the bottom of what's going on here," Ullman said, in press reports. "Obviously, we hope our test results indicate there's no contamination."
Whether or not the products are contaminated, the case raises the issue of professional sportspeople blaming dietary supplements for substances that may have found their way into an athlete’s body by other means.
The implementation of Good Manufacturing Processes (GMPs) in the US has led to improved quality control – a fact that makes it more difficult for contaminated dietary supplements to reach market.
Despite this, a study published in the November/December 2007 issue of the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found traces of Bumetanide in urine tests of people who took StarCaps.
David Cornwell, the attorney representing the players, said StarCaps’ decision to halt new shipments was akin to, "closing the barn door after the horse has bolted."