Minneapolis-based lawyer John W. Lundquist from law firm Fredrikson & Byron represents Bodybuilding.com chief executive Ryan DeLuca.
DeLuca, who founded Bodybuilding.com in 1999 at the age of 21, has pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of introduction and delivery of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce between June 2007 and September 2009 at a federal court in Boise, Idaho.
Lundquist said: “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that a small handful of Bodybuilding.com’s products contained labeling that was not compliant with FDA laws.”
Products were also sold by other reputable retailers
He added: “Those products [I Force Methadrol, Nutra Costal D-Stianozol, I Force Dymethazine, Rage RV5, and Genetic Edge Technologies (GET) SUS500] were manufactured and labeled by other companies and sold by other reputable retailers.
“As CEO of the company, Mr DeLuca is strictly liable for misdemeanor violations of the FDA law.”
But he added: “He wants to put this matter behind himself and continue to move the company forward, which has enjoyed excellent growth since it removed all products that were of concern to the FDA over two years ago.”
DeLuca, who has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine, will be sentenced on June 20 but is not expected to receive a custodial sentence as federal prosecutors agreed not to push for a prison sentence as part of the plea deal.
The charges are violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Bodybuilding.com: Will ‘vigorously defend itself from any unwarranted charges in the ongoing investigation’
Bodybuilding.com said it had “cooperated fully with the FDA and US Attorney’s Office” but would “vigorously defend itself from any unwarranted charges in the ongoing investigation”.
The plea agreement reached by DeLuca “was a personal decision and does not change Bodybuilding.com’s position”, added the firm.
“In an abundance of caution, we conducted a prompt, voluntary recall of all the supplements in question and bolstered our compliance programs within the company and with our suppliers to ensure the high integrity of the products we offer our consumers.”
Plea deal applies to DeLuca alone
According to the plea agreement, which “applies only to Ryan DeLuca, in his personal capacity, and not to any other person or entity", the supplements at issue in the case contained synthetic anabolic steroids or synthetic chemical clones of anabolic steroids which are not dietary ingredients.
It said: “Within Bodybuilding.com and the supplement industry generally, these products and others like them containing Superdrol, Tren, Madol or similar substances, routinely were referred to as prohormones.
“From the start of 2009 through August 2009. Bodybuilding.com had gross revenues of almost $1.8m from the sale of prohormone products.”
Bodybuilding.com sold the misbranded drugs to a buyer “acting in an undercover capacity for the FDA”, added US attorney Wendy Olson.
She would not say whether other retailers in other states outside her jurisdiction are being prosecuted in relation to the misbranded supplements in question, but told Nutraingredients-USA that investigations into Bodybuilding.com were “ongoing”.
The broader investigation
As for the manufacturers of the supplements, several have already been fined, she said.
In May 2011, California-based Tribravus Enterprises (doing business as IForce Nutrition) was sentenced in Idaho for distributing the products 17aPheraFLEX, Dymethazine and Methadrol as dietary supplements when they were in fact misbranded drugs.
In January 2012, California-based R&D Holdings LLC (doing business as Culver Concepts, Bradley Asgard, and Bjorklund) and Nevada-registered DCD LLC and subsidiary Advanced Muscle Science were fined for selling “synthetic steroids masquerading as dietary supplements”.
The supplements in question were Microdrol, Methyldrostanolone and Orafinadrol 50 from R&D Holdings, and Dienedrone and Liquidrone from Advanced Muscle Science (DCD LLC).
The above products were all sold via Bodybuilding.com, which is based in Meridian, Idaho.
The largest online sports nutrition company in the world?
DeLuca sold most of the company to Liberty Media, which owns the QVC home-shopping cable network, in 2008.
Today Bodybuilding.com markets itself as the “largest online sports nutrition company in the world”.
Click here to read about the recent Dr Oz segment on supplement spiking.