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Medical Examiner Says Ephedra Contributed to Bechler's Death

Mar 13, 2003 |

A medical examiner said Thursday that ephedra was a factor in the heatstroke death of Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler last month.

Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper noted toxicology reports confirmed "significant amounts" of the over-the-counter drug supplement containing ephedra was found in Bechler's body.

Bechler had been taking Xenadrine, an over-the-counter drug containing ephedra, to lose weight. He collapsed on February 16 during spring training and died the next day. He was 23.

Major League Baseball has no rules regarding ephedra, which has been banned by the NCAA, the NFL and the International Olympic Committee. Commissioner Selig has banned ephedra from the minor leagues, but he isn't allowed to do so in the majors without the approval of the union.

Major League Baseball released a statement Thursday regarding the toxicology analysis.

"The report from the coroner on the death of Steve Bechler does not diminish Major League Baseball’s concern over the safety of ephedra usage, particularly in the context of professional sports. The Commissioner’s Office will continue to pursue all available avenues to secure the appropriate regulation of this substance and other nutritional supplements. We remain prepared to discuss the issues raised by Mr. Bechler’s tragic death with the Players Association."

Perper noted that Xenadrine was a factor in Bechler's passing, but the toxicology report showed there were no other drugs or alcohol in the player's system when he died. Small amounts of pseudoephedrine and caffeine were also found in Bechler's body, according to the toxicology report.

A bottle of Xenadrine was found in Bechler's locker after he collapsed. After interviewing Orioles officals and the player's family, Perper noted Bechler took three tablets each day of Xenadrine RFA-1.

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