Consumerlab.com Shares Insights From 2 Years of Testing Supplements For Athletic Banned Substances

WHITE PLAINS, NY – April 22, 2004 – Two years after initiating the first program to test dietary supplements for substances banned from athletic competition, ConsumerLab.com today released a short advisory summarizing problems uncovered to-date from its testing. The company hopes that the information will help athletes and manufacturers avoid future problems.

Originally designed for the U.S. Olympic Committee, ConsumerLab.com’s Athletic Banned Substance Screening Program was first offered in early 2001 on a voluntary basis to manufacturers, sports associations, and players’ associations. The program tests for up to 170 banned substances depending on the requirements of the sport. The list of substances is based on the World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited List and includes stimulants, narcotics, anabolic agents, diuretics, masking agents, and beta-blockers. Among ConsumerLab.com’s findings:

Many supplements contain banned substances not listed on their labels, most likely due to contamination.

The most common unlisted substances have been stimulants such as ephedrine and caffeine.

Products with unlisted banned substances are not limited to performance enhancers but include products ranging from multivitamins to sleep aids.

Standard laboratory tests often do not detect small amounts of banned substances that, if ingested, can trigger a positive urine test.

Additionally, ConsumerLab.com’s quality testing of nearly 1,000 supplements has revealed that one out of four lacks claimed ingredients, contains contaminants (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides, manufacturing by-products and breakdown products), will not dissolve properly, or contains more ingredient than stated.

Dr. William Obermeyer, Vice President for Research at ConsumerLab.com, offered the following advice to athletes and manufacturers:

  • Special testing methods, such as those employed by ConsumerLab.com, should be utilized to detect low levels of banned substances. Even at higher levels, expert analysis of results may be required to distinguish banned substances from other ingredients in complex (multiple ingredient) products.
  • Supplements, particularly those coming from abroad and labeled as "natural" may be intentionally spiked with unlabeled banned substances, such as stimulants, in order cause a perceived boost in performance.
  • Athletes should familiarize themselves with the different supplement ingredients that may naturally contain a banned substance. Manufacturers should consider providing label information that identifies these ingredients.

Several of the products that have passed ConsumerLab.com’s testing program are listed on at http://www.consumerlab.com/bannedsub.asp. Reviews of many popular supplements are also available from ConsumerLab.com online. New Reviews soon to be released include, multivitamins/multiminerals, St. John’s wort, valerian, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish and marine oils. The recently published paperback, ConsumerLab.com's Guide to Buying Vitamins and Supplements: What's Really in the Bottle? is available in bookstores, online from www.consumerlab.com or through 800-431-1579.

ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and based in White Plains, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. ConsumerLab.com is affiliated with PharmacyChecker.com (www.pharmacychecker.com), an evaluator of online pharmacies. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online. For group subscriptions, Technical Reports, or product testing contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at [email protected].

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