Anti-Doping Research and Don Catlin pursue support for new Dietary Supplement Survey initiative

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Anti-Doping Research (ADR) has been working in and around the realm of dietary supplements for some time.  Over the course of our history, we have worked on product contamination cases, medical issues stemming from dietary supplement use, characterization of new ingredients that have doping potential, media projects exposing new concerns, product testing for the Banned Substances Control Group Certification Program and more.  Our activities to date have dealt effectively with specific issues yet we have always sought a broader mechanism for evaluating the industry and the potential for controlled substances to contaminate dietary supplements.

There have been a few isolated studies on contamination in dietary supplements, but there has never been a fair and impartial industry-wide survey that examines this issue on an ongoing basis.  Surprisingly, there are no requirements today for the supplement industry to test raw materials or finished products for controlled substances, so the scope of the issue is unknown.  Through random sampling of dietary supplement products, analytical testing, and information dissemination, our Dietary Supplement Survey aims to differentiate the reputable players in the supplement industry from those that continue to introduce nefarious products, and to provide a network of information to consumers and athletes who seek safe supplementation.

Please take a few moments to explore our Dietary Supplement Survey.  We have announced the project in a recent press release and are currently in the process of generating the support and resources necessary to move forward.  Please contact us if you would like further information or if you are interested in supporting the project in some way.

Thank you kindly for your consideration.

Don & Oliver

About Anti-Doping Research, Inc.: Founded in 2005, Anti-Doping Research, Inc. (ADR) is a world-class center of analytical excellence and knowledge.  ADR’s mission is to utilize research, analytical services and education to identify dangerous and banned substances wherever they may be found and help halt their use.  ADR’s laboratory is an ISO 17025-accredited facility with a broad range of analytical capabilities.  ADR is a 501(c)(3) public charity/nonprofit/NGO; donations are most welcomed and are fully tax deductible.

Methylhexanamine information: Where can you find it?


The world is awash with more and more news about methylhexaneamine and positive drug tests related to it.  We have already written a couple blog posts about the compound.  Yesterday we noted an article in The Herald Sun in Australia entitled: Athletes warned of supplement risk: FRESH warnings have been sent to Australia’s elite athletes outlining the risks of taking dietary supplements containing the banned substance methylhexaneamine.

The article describes an e-mail from the Australian Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) warning athletes against taking dietary supplements containing methylhexaneamine…

“Athletes need to be aware that, under the policy of strict liability, they are responsible for any substance found in their body,” the ASADA e-mail reads.

“Athletes using supplements do so at their own risk. This substance is classed as an S6 stimulant on the Prohibited list and is prohibited in-competition.  ASADA is advising all Australian athletes subject to in-competition doping control to carefully consider their use of supplements and products containing methylhexaneamine.”

The article then goes on to quote track star Tamsyn Lewis’ response to the warning:  “There is simply not enough information and for younger athletes coming up through junior ranks, including the football codes, they’re driving blind,” Lewis said.  “They haven’t been educated or informed about this banned substance and the specific supplements to avoid.”

So, where do you find information on methylhexaneamine if you’re an athlete and want to avoid positive tests related to the compound?  Given all the attention on the compound recently we thought we would explore ASADA’s website to see what kind of information they have.  We found four listings after putting ‘methylhexaneamine’ into the search box on the site, all in the last month.  We also went to the USADA and WADA websites to see if information was available through their search boxes; surprisingly neither site returned any matching items.

Digging into the second link on the ASADA site, you can find ASADA’s formal advisory on methylhexaneamine that contains some very good information about the compound including a list of the various synonyms.

What seems to be missing is a listing of the various supplement products and label names, which hides the reality that methylhexaneamine is present.  Many products, for example, contain geranium oil extract, a seemingly benign ingredient.  In reality, geranium oil extract is a common label name for methylhexanamine in supplement products.  Mistaken use of methylhexanamine can easily result.

We have responded ourselves to the methylhexaneamine issue by creating ADR’s Searchable Database of Banned Stimulants.  The database includes banned stimulants, their synonyms, label names, and also brand names that contain this and other banned stimulants.  With the hope of providing a simple tool for athletes and other drug-tested professionals to help avoid similar issues in the future, we are working on raising financial support to further develop the database and expand it to other categories of drugs.  Please contact us at 310-482-6925 or if you would like to help.

Comment on title: Perhaps you have noticed that we have spelled methylhexanamine in the title without the extra ‘e.’  This is because the compound is more commonly listed on internet sites without the ‘e’ even though the scientific name includes it, as a PubChem search demonstrates.  The Wikipedia page is found by searching without the ‘e,’ yet the first line of the article includes the ‘e.’  This example further demonstrates the confusion that swirls around this compound….

Strict liability rules in doping violations for clenbuterol: the Ovtcharov, Contador and Hardy cases


The recent news reported by Associated Press on September 22 that German Olympic Table Tennis medalist Dimitrij Ovtcharov was suspended over a positive doping test was likely missed by many in the United States, but it was certainly not missed in Germany.  What should be notable to all is that this is yet another violation due to clenbuterol, the same drug that Tour De France Champion Alberto Contador tested positive for a few months ago.  Also at the core of this case is the long-held rule of strict liability that has been a core tenet of the anti-doping system and is undergoing a series of tests currently due to the influx of recent clenbuterol positive drug-test reports.

This core tenet, described on page 19 in section 2.1.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code – 2009 says that athletes are responsible for any substance found in their body.  The comment provides a good history of the rule and describes that “in the exceptional circumstance where a Prohibited Substance entered an Athlete’s system through No Fault or Negligence or No Significant Fault or Negligence on the Athlete’s part” modified sanctions may be considered.  The consideration of fault or negligence has been adopted over the course of time based on experiences similar to that of American swimmer Jessica Hardy, who also tested positive for clenbuterol back in 2008 and lost her opportunity to compete in the Olympics because of it.

In her case, our laboratory found that the supplements she was taking were contaminated with clenbuterol.  After a long legal fight, she did receive a reduced sanction of one year based on this consideration, though she has to continue to fight to be allowed to compete in the next Olympic Games as drug test violations in today’s system are supposed to keep you out of the next Olympics.

Apparently as of October 15, 2010 news indicates that Ovtcharov’s doping suspension has been lifted after the report by Cologne doping expert Wilhelm Schaenzer noted that “the intake of clenbuterol through contaminated food was the likeliest explanation for the finding.  A doping related use of clenbuterol is highly unlikely.”

We are not surprised by the notes of our friend and colleague Dr. Schaenzer, as we have had similar musings ourselves in regards to the Contador case.  We do note that nothing in the comments quoted from his report in the article above seem to definitively state where the source of clenbuterol originated.  It is also noteworthy that the Ovtcharov suspension seems to have been lifted after only three weeks based on the statements that he was ‘likely’ not at fault.  Comparing this situation to Jessica Hardy’s one-year sanction and two-year-plus legal battle is perhaps most striking.

Now, we have no inside knowledge or information regarding this matter and we suspect that Dr. Schaenzer would not make such statements without data to demonstrate that the likelihood of doping does not exist in this case.  We would like to find out more information.  We are also curious about the hair test noted in the article, how it was done and what it demonstrated.

Meanwhile we have to wonder about the Contador case as he too has blamed contaminated meat for the clenbuterol finding, according to an article in The New York Times on September 30, 2010.  According to the article, Contador’s hired expert, Dutch scientist Douwe de Boer, “has already generated a paper concluding that ‘it is extremely likely and would be only fair’ to say that the existence of clenbuterol in Contador’s system was from an accidental ingestion of contaminated meat.”  The article goes on to note, “An expert in clenbuterol contamination in meat, however, characterized Contador’s explanation as almost impossible.”  Certainly, the swirling rumors surrounding placticizer tests and blood transfusion possibilities do not help his cause.  Perhaps a hair test will exonerate him as well, we will see.  Meanwhile, Contador must move on to month two of his fight; time will tell if it is as long as Jessica Hardy’s.

Once all is said and done, it will be interesting to examine how the strict liability rules are applied in these cases and the others that are out there.

Welcome to The Catlin Perspective

Today we are excited to formally launch our blog, The Catlin Perspective.  We are pleased to have this new forum to share our thoughts with our friends, colleagues and the general public.  We hope that the ideas we share can inspire fresh thinking and action and can lead to cleaner competition and improved safety of over-the-counter products.

In addition to the blog, we encourage you to explore our new website for The Catlin Consortium.  We are also excited to unveil the ADR Dietary Supplement Survey, a non-profit initiative, which aims to do more to protect the public and athletes from supplement contamination concerns through product testing, research and information dissemination.  The survey also provides enormous benefit to the supplement industry as it finally creates an objective way of differentiating reputable products and manufacturers from the nefarious ones.  We encourage you to join us in supporting this new project.

We hope you enjoy the blog and welcome comments and feedback that can inspire further discussion.

Best regards,

Don and Oliver

More methylhexaneamine positives. Why was the compound’s presence not addressed earlier?


Sadly, the rash of positive drug tests related to methylhexaneamine continues.  Yesterday, it was reported by that the cyclist brothers Rui and Mario Costa both tested positive for methylhexaneamine in the past year.  This is merely the latest example of a string of high-profile positive drug tests related to methylhexaneamine that have surfaced in the last two years.

Our previous blog post (of Sept. 10) explains how the many synonyms and brand names that surround methylhexaneamine create confusion and can result in inadvertent use of the drug.  We also briefly looked into the interesting history of the compound.  We posed the question, ‘why is this drug banned in sport yet legal in dietary supplements’, and that question remains.

What we did not examine is why it took so long to address this compound, as it was exposed as a potential problem in the Washington Post on May 8, 2006.   Patrick Arnold, the chemist mastermind behind the infamous BALCO steroid scandal, was awaiting his sentencing at the time.  Meanwhile, his company was marketing methylhexaneamine under the trademarked name Geranamine.  The father of designer steroids, as many consider Arnold to be, had shifted his focus to methylhexaneamine.  The writing was on the walls, or at least in the Washington Post, that this substance would become a problem in sport.

Methlyhexaneamine was added to the World-Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List for 2010.  In the U.S. supplement industry, the argument continues as to whether or not the compound should be allowed as an ingredient.  For now, it continues to be legal to make supplements that contain the compound.