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Apr 30, 2003 | New York Post

Calling it legal "speed," a City Councilman introduced a bill yesterday to ban the easy sale of ephedra, an herbal stimulant linked to the death of Baltimore Oriole pitcher Steve Bechler.
"Ephedra is a dietary supplement, which allows it to fall outside FDA regulation," said Councilman James Oddo (R-S.I.), who introduced the bill.

"Ephedra is a drug and not a dietary supplement, and should be regulated. Ephedra for all intents and purposes is speed."

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate ephedra because it is considered a food.

The supplement is often used as a dietary aid or energy booster.

Bechler died in February from heatstroke after collapsing during a workout at training camp.

His death was linked to a diet supplement that contained ephedra.

Years earlier, in 1996, Peter Schlendorf, a college student at SUNY-Albany, also died after taking a supplement containing ephedra.

"Within hours, he was dead," said his sister, Christine, of Manhattan. "This is not a harmless herb."

The bill would allow the sale of ephedra by a licensed alternative-medicine practitioner.

The herb is also used to treat asthma and upper respiratory infections.

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