NFL joins coalition to support dietary supplement regulation
(May 1, 2003) – The National Football League has joined a coalition of the nation’s leading medical, public health and sports organizations to support legislation regarding the regulation of dietary supplements that contain steroid precursors or ephedra.
In addition to the NFL, the Coalition for Anabolic Steroid Precursor and Ephedra Regulation (CASPER) includes the NCAA, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the American Medical Association and other major organizations.
CASPER supports proposals for government regulation of products containing steroid precursors and products containing ephedra. CASPER was initially founded to support The Anabolic Steroid Precursor Control and Health Education Act (H.R. 207), which was co-sponsored by Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.). [A complete list of CASPER’s current members is included in this release.]
The NFL bans the use of these substances in its Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances, a collectively bargained program with the NFL Players Association that includes year-round random testing of all players and discipline for violators of the policy.
Steroid precursors are substances that are converted by the body into steroids which have an anabolic effect. The steroid precursors are themselves steroids. In almost all cases, the substances formed in the body from steroid precursors that are responsible for their advertised actions are scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. Ephedra use in a small but significant number of otherwise healthy individuals has been associated with heart attack, stroke and psychoses. In specific circumstances, it has been associated with death. The increased use of these substances increases the risk that otherwise healthy individuals will have an adverse medical event. “The Coalition for Anabolic Steroid Precursor and Ephedra Regulation was formed to coordinate the efforts of the top U.S. medical, public health and sport organizations with an end result of changing the laws and regulations regarding the exclusion of steroid precursors and ephedra in dietary supplements,” said Shawn Smeallie, CASPER Executive Director.
“The NFL is pleased to be a founding member of CASPER,” said Harold Henderson, NFL Executive Vice President and Chairman of the NFL Management Council. “Our goal is to help make The Anabolic Steroid Precursor Control and Health Education Act (H.R. 207) a reality, which in turn will support the health of our players and of the American public. We have been outspoken about the health risks and dangers due to the presence of anabolic steroid precursors and ephedra in dietary supplements, and CASPER will facilitate coordination within the medical, public health and athletic communities. We believe strongly that this is much more than an issue for athletes. It is a significant health issue for the entire American public.”
The Anabolic Steroid Precursor Control and Health Education Act was co-sponsored by Congressmen John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) and Tom Osborne (R-Neb.) in October 2002. It was reintroduced in January 2003 as H.R. 207. The proposed bill would apply to substances that, once ingested, metabolize in the body into anabolic steroids. Currently, these anabolic steroid precursors are being marketed as anabolic-equivalent “dietary supplements” that promise to magically build muscle. The manufacturers of these products are not required to perform safety testing prior to releasing these potentially dangerous steroid equivalents. To correct this situation, Rep. Sweeney and Rep. Osborne moved quickly to draft the new legislation reclassifying anabolic steroid precursors as controlled substances.
“The use of these dangerous supplements has become a serious health issue for the American public as a whole,” said Rep. Sweeney. “We cannot allow their abuse to degrade the spirit of athletic competition as well as ruin the health of those who have been duped into using them for everything from the promise of quick-fix weight loss to that of a magic muscle powder.”
“I’m pleased with the creation of CASPER and its mission,” Rep. Osborne said. “It works to spread the word about important efforts and legislation geared to protect young athletes and non-athletes. We need to make sure that steroid precursor manufacturers are no longer able to exploit teenagers, athletes and unsuspecting consumers by selling them untested, unregulated steroid equivalents, labeled ‘dietary supplements.’”
CASPER will also rely on the grassroots efforts of its member organizations and the U.S. public to ensure that members of the U.S. Congress and Senate are aware of their concerns regarding the health dangers of dietary supplements.
The coalition plans to add other medical, public health and athletic organizations to strengthen and extend CASPER’s reach and voice.