NPA defends supplements from recent steroid accusations

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary supplement health Food and drug administration Dietary supplement

The general public should not be misled to believe that supplement products are dangerous or illegal by athletes’ uninformed usage of the products, and by irresponsible media coverage, according to a US supplements group.

The Natural Products Association (NPA) said substances that are banned by various sports leagues as performance enhancers are not necessarily dangerous or illegal.

Such products could include caffeine, commonly used over-the-counter cold remedies and prescription medications, according to the group’s executive director and CEO, David Seckman.

“Athletes have the right and responsibility to avoid their use. However, the consuming public who benefits from legitimate medications or dietary supplements – as well as a trip to the local coffee house – should not be denied their use if an athlete is unwilling or unable to follow the rules established by their sport,” ​he said.

Steroid contamination

Seckman was responding to recent media reports about athletes found to have consumed banned substances in contaminated supplement products.

This week, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero received a 50-game suspension after a supplement product he consumed – 6-OXO Extreme – was found to be contaminated with androstenedione, a substance banned by Major League Baseball.

The media coverage of the case has re-ignited what supplement trade groups such as NPA have termed a “mischaracterization”​ of the industry as irresponsible and unregulated.

Romero issued a response, picked up by mainstream media, stating: "Basically, I am being punished for not having a chemistry lab in my house to test everything I put in my body. Because reading the ingredients on a label is no longer good enough. I am all for catching the guys that cheat and punishing them. But I feel like I'm the victim of a system where a player like me is punished because other players before me have blatantly broken the rules."

Blame game

According to NPA, which commends the overall increased scrutiny by professional sports leagues on steroid usage, this has also led to unsubstantiated allegations that a ‘tainted’ or mislabeled dietary supplement is to blame when an athlete tests positive for a banned substance.

“As the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) mandates, all ingredients must be listed on product labels and product claims must be substantiated,”​ said Seckman.

“If this is not the case, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – have the authority under DSHEA to act promptly. These federal enforcement powers include, but are not limited to, removing any dietary supplements deemed adulterated from the marketplace and imposing substantial penalties on those who violate the law.”

He also highlighted new good manufacturing practices, which are intended to ensure that supplement products meet high standards for quality and purity.

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