Bechler's Teammates, Others Call Ephedra 'Safe' - Cause of Death Still Unproven
MANASQUAN, N.J., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Following the death of Orioles' pitcher Steve Bechler, many MLB players and other pro athletes are speaking out in published reports in defense of ephedra products. Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper suggested during a press conference last week that ephedra may have been one of several contributing factors in Bechler's death. Perper also pointed to other fatal factors. Bechler had a history of borderline hypertension, liver abnormalities, and had little solid food in his digestive tract, probably from a strict diet.
Orioles designated hitter David Segui said, "there's almost a witch hunt going on" in the aftermath of Bechler's death. "It hasn't been proven that ephedrine caused his death. There was probably some milk found in his system, too. Did that cause his death?"
Orioles' right fielder Jay Gibbons: "I used it in college a little bit and even in pro ball," Gibbons said. "It's a good supplement if taken right. I've never had any problems with it. I've never had any dizziness with it. It's just like caffeine."
"Would I still consider using it? Probably," said Orioles catcher Brook Fordyce. "It has no ill effect on me that I know of, and I use it safely. So if I was tired, I probably would take one, like if we had a day game after a night game. I'm not afraid of it."
Orioles' right fielder Jay Gibbons said he used a dietary supplement containing ephedrine to help drop about 15 pounds before the 2002 season. This past winter, he was trying to maintain his weight, so he didn't use it. Gibbons said using ephedrine is safe, as long as people are careful to follow the warning labels.
Philadelphia Phillies' Marlon Byrd, a rookie center fielder said of ephedra, "It affects people differently, but no one should rush to conclusions."
When reached for comment regarding the controversy, Rams running back Marshall Faulk told Sports Illustrated, "They can ban it all they want, but I'm still going to take it."
These comments run contrary to public statements by Orioles' owner Peter Angelos who hurriedly called upon Major League Baseball to ban ephedra. Critics say the Orioles organization is trying to shift blame in light of reports that Bechler reported to spring training out-of-shape and was pushed too hard in workouts. Orioles' manager Mike Hargrove pulled Bechler out of workouts twice and even considered a "special conditioning" program for the pitcher. Dr. Carlon M. Colker, a Greenwich, CT physician, stated, "I don't see how ephedra could have contributed. This was clearly a case of heat stroke. Taking ephedra as directed does not lead to heat stroke."