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Performance Enhancing Supplements Debate Continues

Oct 8, 2002 | The Post

The use of nutritional supplements in college sports is nothing new, but it appears to be the newest concern for NCAA officials.

With many anabolic performance-enhancing substances already deemed illegal in intercollegiate competition, the debate between what is considered a banned nutritional, performance-enhancing substance and what is an acceptable nutritional, performance-enhancing substance is now the issue of focus.

As a whole, the NCAA does not strictly regulate nutritional supplements. Certain ingredients contained in nutritional substances are banned by the NCAA and can be bought over-the-counter. Ephedra and Guarana can be found in Ripped Fuel and Ultimate Orange and can be bought at many nutrition stores, but are banned by the NCAA.

Ohio State Head Physician and NFL Advisor on Anabolic Steroids Dr. John Lombardo said there is a link between ephedrine (ephedra) and fatal heart rhythm difficulties, thermo-regulatory problems, strokes and seizures.

According to a 2001 survey conducted by the NCAA, almost 60 percent of college athletes said they used nutritional supplements that might have contained a banned substance. The use ranged from ephedrine (ephedra) to anabolic steroids and amphetamines. Of those athletes, 15 percent reported receiving them from a team doctor or athletic trainer.

Ohio Assistant Athletic Trainer Scott Gardner said the biggest scare with ephedrine is the unpredictable risk it has on the heart.

"The primary reason ephedra-based products are banned is because of the effects on the heart rate," Gardner said. "You don't want the heart being stressed any more than it has to while participating under strenuous conditions."

Northwestern football player Rashidi Wheeler's fatal collapse in August of 2001 drew attention to one ephedra-based product known as Ultimate Orange. In a story reported by the *L.A. Times*, Wheeler supposedly had taken the over-the-counter supplement with his asthma medication months before his death. Ultimate Orange, which contains the stimulates ephedra and guarana, combined with the asthma medication and was considered to be a potentially deadly formula that led to Wheeler's death.

Ohio State head football trainer Doug Calland said he does not think using certain nutritional supplements to help gain an edge is worth the risks involved.

"The biggest fear is that you don't always know exactly what is in the product you buy," Calland said. "The industry isn't regulated and a lot of times you think you're taking one thing, when in fact it might contain small amounts of something not even listed on the label."

According to the NCAA, On August 1, 2003, the NCAA Executive Committee plans to ban the stimulant phenylpropanolamine (PPA). The drug is an ingredient used in many over-the-counter and prescription cold medications including Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold and Flu, Contac Cold and Flu, Dimetapp and Tavist-D Antihistamines. According to the NCAA, athletes that test positive for an illegal substance are suspended for a year and forfeit one year of eligibility.

Gardner said PPA probably is being banned for similar reasons that ephedra and guarana were made illegal.

"I believe it (PPA) concerns cardiac issues again," Gardner said. "There is a general worry in the national public and I think the NCAA is trying to safeguard itself to avoid any problems in the future."

NCAA officials said athletes will be given advanced warning to remove any products containing PPA from their home.

Banned Substances in the NCAA

Stimulants Anabolic Agents

Caffeine (guarana)* Androstenediol

Ephedrine (ephedra)* Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)** Norandrostenediol

Strychnine Testosterone***

found in Ripped Fuel and Ultimate Orange products

found in over-the-counter cold medications

if concentration of testosterone to epitestosterone in urine exceeds 6:1 ratio

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