Nutrition Business Journal

Earning trust of Olympic athletes, trainers fuels sales for COLD-FX


Paul Rosen, a gold medalist Paralympic athlete, is one of a growing number of elite athletes who say they would like to take a multivitamin, protein powder and other dietary supplements but do not because these products simply carry too much risk of being contaminated with a banned substance or of triggering a failed drug test. “I am a team athlete, and I get drug tested a lot,” said Rosen, who is the goalie for the sledge hockey team Canada is sending to the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver next year. His team won a gold medal in the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy. “If I were to test positive during a drug test because of a supplement I was taking, my entire team would lose any medals it had won,” Rosen told Nutrition Business Journal. “I cannot take that risk.”

One dietary supplement that Rosen and likely many other Olympic athletes will take in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Winter Games is Afexa Life Sciences Inc.’s immune-support product COLD-FX. That’s because COLD-FX was named the official cold and flu remedy of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and as such is being recommended by trainers around the world as a product that can help Olympic athletes prepare for game time. “The athlete is no good if he or she is not healthy on race day,” said Dale Henwood, president of the Canadian Sport Centre, one of seven Olympic training centers in Canada. “At the recommendation of a pharmacist, we approached COLD-FX in 2001 to make sure we were doing everything we could to keep the athletes healthy.”

Afexa Life Sciences has been able to earn the trust of Olympic organizers and trainers such as Henwood because of the 12 clinical trials the company has conducted on COLD-FX; the company’s ChemBioPrint technology, which ensures batch-to-batch uniformity of its product; and its efforts to test COLD-FX to ensure that the ginseng-based product won’t trigger a positive drug test in athletes. “Being named the official cold and flu remedy by the Olympic committee is a great validation of our science and testing,” said Jacqueline Shan, PhD, Afexa’s chief scientific officer and the co-discoverer of COLD-FX. Already Afexa has seen the IOC endorsement boost COLD-FX sales, which have now hit the $50 million mark, Shan added.

Along with conducting its own doping trial of COLD-FX, Afexa is one of a growing number of companies investing in NSF International’s Certified for Sport program. On September 14, 2009, NSF announced that COLD-FX had passed its certification program, earning the product the highest sports certification in North America from the leading product safety and banned substances testing body for elite athletes.

NSF’s Certified for Sport program was designed to protect against product adulteration, to verify label claims and to screen for banned substances—such as stimulants, steroids or beta blockers—in a finished product or ingredient. Since the program’s creation in 2004, NSF has formed testing partnerships with numerous leagues and players’ organizations, including Major League Baseball and the National Football League. To date, 49 products from 16 companies have gone through NSF’s Certified for Sport program.

COLD-FX will be the exclusive cold and flu remedy available at general stores within the Olympic and Paralympic Villages in Vancouver and Whistler. The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games has arranged with Afexa to make COLD-FX available to close to 40,000 volunteers, staff and media during the 2010 Winter Games.

About 90% of the 11,000 athletes who competed in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing used some form of dietary supplement, but no supplement was implicated in a positive drug test during the 2008 Games. That said, tainted supplements have been at the center of several high-profile failed drug tests in the professional athletic arena of late. J.C. Romero, a relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, was suspended in January for the first 50 games of this year’s Major League Baseball season after failing a drug test. Romero blamed the product 6-OXO Extreme for the traces of androstenedione found in his urine in August 2008 and has sued Ergopharm, makers of 6-OXO Extreme. Romero also named in the suit Proviant Technologies, Vitamin Shoppe and GNC, which sold him the product.
NBJ’s Sports Nutrition & Weight Loss issue publishes this month. To order a copy of the issue, subscribe to NBJ or download a free 32-page sample issue, go to NBJ’s subscriber page.

Related NBJ links:
NSF, HFL and Others Help Firms Prove Their Sports Products Are Safe for Athletes
Will COLD-FX’s Inspired Combination of Science and Celebrity Succeed in the U.S?
Consumer Usage & Spending: Sports Nutrition & Weight-Loss: 1999-2004 - Chart 49

Related Functional Ingredients Magazine links:
Giving nutrition a sporting chance in 2009

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