A Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) spokesperson told us the product breaches were mostly muscle-building or fat-burning supplements favoured by gym-users with steroids, stimulants and hormones singled out as the most common contaminants.
Mostly online retailers have been told to remove products, although the agency has not yet released an inventory of the supplements in question.
“It might seem like a high number but this is just the earlier stages of a campaign and people will hear more from us,” he said. “But we want to make it clear we are not trying to persecute the industry but inform them.”
The action follows last week’s publication in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) of research conducted by Oxford University academics that found the science backing most sports nutrition products was feeble. That research formed the basis of a BBC documentary last week and is a massive blow to the sector in the run-up to the London Olympic Games.
The MHRA said illegal supplements spiked with ephedrine, synephrine and yohimibine could cause adverse reactions like kidney failure, seizures and heart problems.
The current campaign had been partially motivated by the recent incident of a spiked product called Celtic Dragon that left two men hospitalised with severe jaundice and liver damage.
Products containing the controversial stimulant DMAA (methylhexaneamine/1,3-dimethylamylamine) are also under investigation, and the spokesperson said a further statement about that would come sooner rather than later.
For the current effort, the MHRA worked with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), which last week suspended Welsh boxer Enzo Maccarinelli for six months after he tested positive for DMAA after a boxing match in March.
UKAD chief executive Andy Parkinson said, “Elite athletes need to exercise extreme caution when it comes to deciding what they put into their body and a vital part of our prevention programme is educating athletes in the risk of supplements.”
“Athletes who use sports supplements need to choose reputable manufacturers who can justify their claims with scientific evidence, and have their products screened to minimise the risk of testing positive for a substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List.”
The MHRA’s manager of the borderline medicines section, David Carter, added: “We recommend that people only use approved products and speak to a qualified medical practitioner if they have any concerns about any supplements they may be taking.”
Some of the busted 84 products included:
- USP Labs 'OxyElite Pro'
- Nutrex 'Lipo 6' range
- Dorian Yates 'Blackbombs'
- Isatori 'MX-LS7'
- i Force 'Maximise V1 & V2'
- Forza 'T5 Black' range
- Cellucor 'D4 Thermal Shock'
- Biotest 'Hot-Rox'
- Dymatize 'Dyma Burn Extreme'