USADA to name and shame contaminated supplements

By Shane Starling in Secaucus, New Jersey

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplements, Vice president of the united states, John mccain

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has been methodically buying dietary supplements from vendors and websites like and will produce a list of branded products that contain banned substances by the end of the summer.

Speaking at the SupplySideEast trade show in Secaucus, New Jersey, the USADA’s Amy Eichner, PhD, said supplements that advertise prohibited substances, or ingredients that converted to prohibited substances, could find themselves on the list. Steroid and stimulant contamination are the most obvious targets.


“We want to empower athletes,” ​Eicher said, noting it was also advising athletes that chose to take supplements to look for third party, good manufacturing practise (GMP) certificates.

She said ingredients such as methylhexnamine, betel nut and nandoline had flared on its radar of late.

However its position remains somewhat quizzical as it continues to state that it cannot advise athletes on dietary supplements, due to uncertainty over contamination. The current advice to athletes is given on a “if you must take them” ​basis.

Industry has criticized USADA for not doing enough to bring sporting groups it has formed official alliances with such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, US Olympic Committee (USOC) into line with its own anti-drug protocols.

Industry believes stricter drug-testing may make it more difficult for athletes to blame dietary supplements if they are one of the unlucky that are found to be in breach USADA testing.

It is for this reason many in industry are of the view that new laws such as those proposed and now modified by Republican Senator John McCain, and backed by USADA and the sporting bodies, are so much wasted energies because the existing DSHEA (Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act) already guards against transgressions such as the introduction of steroids.


“All of this is just a divergence from the main problem which is that there is rampant drug use in many pro sports and that needs to be addressed,” ​said Dan Fabricant, PhD, the vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Natural Products Association (NPA) after the seminar.

Industry is therefore not a big fan of initiatives such as the USADA-backed Supplement Safety Now campaign launched last year, nor the kinds of draconian measures outlined in McCain’s initial supplements safety bill.

“If it is already a crime to market adulterated or misbranded products, how will additional regulations make these rogue companies change their behavior if they don’t care about the existing regulations,” ​New York-based food attorney Marc Ullman asked Eichner.

Eichner acknowledged there would always be rogue companies but said its initiatives, while not perfect, were a step in the right direction.

In response to another question, she said USADA was, “most definitely not anti-supplements”.

But Steve Dentali, chief scientific officer at the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) expressed disappointment that USADA had not consulted industry more closely along the way, and highlighted the problem of its actions giving the impression the dietary supplements industry is unregulated.

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