The substance was reportedly bumetanide, a prescription weight loss diuretic that can cause significant fluid and electrolyte loss, and could potentially be used to mask the presence of performance enhancing drugs in one’s system.
The players are Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and Charles Grant of the New Orleans Saints, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of the Minnesota Vikings and Bryan Pittman of the Houston Texans. Attorneys for five of the six suspended players have claimed that the players took the dietary supplement Starcaps, and that the supplement’s label did not indicate the presence of the banned substance.
The suspensions are currently being appealed, but the NFL has held firm on its position that players are responsible for every substance they put into their bodies. David Cornwell, attorney for several of the players, commented on the NFL’s decision to suspend the players, “[The players] took a weight loss supplement that they had every reason to believe was safe. Against the backdrop of the federal government's refusal to require accurate labeling for nutritional supplements and Dr. Lombardo's specific, but undisclosed knowledge that Starcaps contained bumetanide, it is grossly unfair that Deuce, Will, and Charles are the only ones that must bear a burden.”
The NFL has responded by saying that it is not obligated to warn players of supplements containing banned substances. Balanced Health Products, manufacturers of Starcaps, have recalled more than 60,000 bottles of the supplement because of the presence of bumetanide. The bottles recalled include supplements sold between March 2006 and April 2007, as well as those sold between May 2007 and July 2008.
If you are an NBJ subscriber and would like to read more of NBJ’s coverage of the NFL and professional athletes taking banned substances, click the following:
Athletic Banned Substances and Dietary Supplements: What Industry is Doing
NSF, HFL and Others Help Firms Prove Their Sports Products Are Safe for Athletes
Programs Work to Boost Supplement Credibility in Eyes of Elite Athletes