Masquerading for profit

The world comes together this month to watch the finest of the finest perform extraordinary feats in the Vancouver Olympics. If you look closely at this year's athletes you may see some familiar names—including short track skater Katherine Reutter on the cover—but many company names that belong to this industry. Without the support of companies like Bionergy, Elete, USANA and Afexa, there would be no way for athletes to afford to train. This month's Functional Ingredients highlights companies in this industry that financially support Olympic athletes. Throughout the Vancouver Olympics, our editors will follow these athletes and report back to the industry on our website as to how they perform. Look for videos, interviews and news stories on, from Feb. 12 to 28, 2010.

In contrast to those athletes who use supplements to achieve the highest level of clean, honest performance, there is the case of former baseball slugger Mark McGwire, who has admitted to using steroids for nearly a decade during his career. While this news isn't surprising, it sheds clarity on a black cloud that hangs over the sports world. After many years of speculation about athletes like McGwire, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) took a stand at a news conference in December regarding the sale of drugs masquerading as supplements. The effort, called Supplement Safety Now, is aimed at eliminating the practice of selling steroids and others drugs as 'safe and legal' supplements.

The very week of the news conference, USADA purchased desoxymethyltesterone (Madol) from an unlikely source, The ease of the buy highlighted how the sale of these substances has moved from the black market to America's primary digital marketplace. You may remember Madol as the designer steroid that rocked the hinges on the locker room doors of the sports world during the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) scandal, when professional athletes risked it all to try various performance enhancing concoctions developed by BALCO.

The BALCO story broke in 2003. It has taken until now for the US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to place Madol on the Controlled Substance List. While the move is necessary, a seven-year lag by the DEA is not acceptable. By now, a host of other illegal substances have been introduced to the market by people who should be behind bars. Meanwhile, the supplements industry takes the heat from the media about a lack of regulation when the real problem lies with a lack of enforcement.

I can't help but think of the lyrics for 'Masquerade,' a song from Phantom of the Opera: "Take your turn, take a ride on the merry-go-round in an inhuman race . . . Eye of gold, thigh of blue, true is false, who is who? . . .Drink it in, drink it up, till you've drowned in the light . . ."

So while the DEA plays catch up in the inhuman race, unscrupulous companies take their turn on the merry go round, while athletes willing risk it all drink it up till they drown in the light.

Citius, Altius, Fortius (swifter, higher, stronger),

Kimberly Stewart
Editorial Director
[email protected]

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