Two Female Sports Reporters Among the Best in the Business

We were saddened to learn last week of the abuse female sports reporters frequently endure via social media forums such as Twitter and in e-mails. The hate-filled messages, usually from men, include such things as wanting to see the women murdered, raped, or beaten by their boyfriends. Vile doesn’t seem a strong enough word to describe these taunts.

The video of the words being read aloud by uninvolved men to some of the female sports reporters in question is heartbreaking and infuriating. Who do the men behind these messages think they are? Besides lacking common decency, we know one thing they are not: informed.

Over the past three decades, journalists from print, radio, and television have interviewed our esteemed anti-doping guru, Dr. Don Catlin, countless times. Sometimes it relates to his experience directing the first sports anti-doping lab in the United States, the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, or about the many tests he’s developed to detect performance-enhancing drugs such as the first designer steroid, norbolethone; the T/E ratio test used to distinguish natural from synthetic testosterone; or THG. More recently, it often regards his experience overseeing the testing of dietary supplement products for the trusted third-party supplement certification program BSCG Certified Drug Free® or includes his insights about the use of drugs in the headlines such as meldonium, hGH, or FG-4592.

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Interview with Dr. Don Catlin in 2008. Photo by Oliver Catlin.

Throughout this span of time, Dr. Catlin has been interviewed by hundreds of journalists of every stripe. Among just a handful who have stood out and risen to the top are Amy Shipley, formerly with the Washington Post, and The New York TimesJuliet Macur, who wrote the newspaper’s story about the misogynistic messages. He has worked with both women on multiple stories over the years, and found both to be exceptional professionals.

In their own ways, Shipley and Macur have demonstrated themselves to be consistently fair, perceptive, thorough, and undaunted in asking a range of questions, doing extensive research, and covering subjects others might have overlooked or been intimated by. Their stories have been accurate, smart, and well written. In our eyes, these two women have helped lead the field of sports reporting.

Juliet Macur’s reporting of the doping challenges facing cycling outpaced others in the field and didn’t come about via conjecture, rumor, or bias as did some others’ work. Her subsequent book on Lance Armstrong’s fall demonstrated the breadth and depth of her reporting and writing skills.

Nearly 30 years ago in the 1980s, Amy Shipley contacted Dr. Catlin, wanting to know what his lab did and how they did it. He suggested she fly out to see how it all worked—and she did. The result was an extensive, in-depth piece on the science of anti-doping testing, including the use of gas chromatography mass spectrometry—not a typical topic for a daily newspaper.

In 2005, when Dr. Catlin discovered a performance-enhancing drug, the designer steroid methasterone, masquerading as a dietary supplement product, he reached out to Shipley to warn athletes. She broke the story that November, which reverberated through the industry, leading to a focus on pro-hormone supplements and ultimately an FDA raid in 2009 of Bodybuilding.com, which remains as one of the largest enforcement actions to date in the supplement industry. Methasterone was soon added to the WADA Prohibited List, and Superdrol and other similar supplement products containing the substance were eventually pulled from the marketplace.

The article prompted a loud response on the muscle boards and discussion sites, many of which included hate-filled messages and even death threats directed at Ms. Shipley and Dr. Catlin. A perfect example of the kind of vitriol that can come from journalism that pushes the envelope and exposes issues of concern to sport that also has larger impacts on the general public.

In 2006, two years before the first positive test result in sports, Shipley wrote of Dr. Catlin’s analysis of the new designer stimulant methylhexaneamine, which was being used as an ingredient in dietary supplements. Her exposé led to further evaluation of this dangerous compound, which was added to the WADA Prohibited List in 2009 and has since become the third most reported drug in the WADA system.

These are just a few examples of contributions female journalists have made to sport. Those who seek to offend and hurl scorn at female sports reporters need to be aware of the impact these dedicated, hardworking, and talented women have made in the sports realm. Shipley, Macur, and others like them, have more than earned a right to work in the field of sports reporting and deserve nothing less than our praise and our thanks for their fortitude and great work.

Amazon.com: An unfettered marketplace for banned and illegal drugs masquerading as dietary supplements

Banned and illegal drugs, by definition, should be hard to get, shouldn’t they? Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite; just explore Amazon.com, one of the largest marketplaces for banned or illegal drugs masquerading as dietary supplements.

Need steroids?  There are plenty of options.  New stimulant compounds that the FDA and other international authorities consider illegal and have proven harmful; no problem those are in stock.  What about new drugs that have yet to be approved for human consumption?  Sure you can get those too.  We explore a few startling examples of the illegal and potentially dangerous compounds available today at Amazon.com.

Steroids have been a concern for consumers and athletes for decades.  Pharmaceutical steroid development reached a pinnacle in the 1960’s with a handful of steroids like stanozolol and nandrolone approved for human use, after being evaluated for safety and toxicity. 

Since then a proliferation of prohormones, designer steroids or steroids in disguise,Superdrol appeared in the dietary supplement marketplace and in positive drug test results in sport.  Unlike approved steroids, the safety, toxicity and approved dose of such compounds are unknown, and some, particularly 17-alpha-methylated steroids like Superdrol, have proven to be toxic and dangerous.  The drug caused liver failure and a positive drug test for an NCAA athlete Jareem Gunter in 2005.

With the BALCO scandal in 2003, that unearthed the doping escapades of Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Barry Bonds, came attention.  Steroids like ‘THG’ and ‘Madol’ were at its heart.  President George W. Bush focused on steroids in his 2004 State of the Union Address.  Later that year, Bush signed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, which was enhanced with the passing of the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2012.

The FDA took prominent action in a highly publicized raid of Bodybuilding.com in November 2009.  In one of the largest regulatory actions to date, the FDA found 65 illegal steroid products for sale that contained five steroid compounds, “Superdrol,” “Madol,” “Tren,” “Androstenedione,” and/or “Turinabol.”  In 2012, as a result of this case, a fine of $7 million dollars was levied against Bodybuilding.com.

Unfortunately, Amazon did not heed the president’s 2004 State-of-the-Union message, nor the legal regulations in the Anabolic Steroid Control Acts, nor the prominent FDA enforcement action against Bodybuilding.com.

Amazingly, in January 2011 we noted in a blog post that products the FDA had raided Bodybuilding.com for in 2009 were still available at Amazon.com, namely CEL M-MDrolDrol, which contained ‘Superdrol’ (Superdrol, also known as methasterone, has the scientific name 2α, 17α-dimethyl-5α-androstane-3-one-17β-ol).  The Washington Post reported the story on January 19, 2011, numerous other news outlets followed with their own coverage.  We at The Catlin Consortium had hoped that by publicizing the issue Amazon would be put on notice allowing the company to address the issue responsibly.

That has not happened.  Instead, CEL M-Drol remained available at Amazon.com on September 10, 2013.  It has since mysteriously disappeared from the site after we
included the link in a supplement industry presentation in late September.  ‘Superdrol’, however, continues to appear in another product called M-Stane, which lists the compound on the label under the name 2a-17a-dimethyl-5a-androst-3-one-17b-ol.

MStaneTranadrol Image Purus Labs Nasty Mass

M-Stane is only the tip of the iceberg.  As of October 20, Amazon.com still had two products available that were named on the FDA raid list in 2009; Kilo Sports Trenadrol and Purus Labs Nasty Mass.   A search for ‘prohormones’ on Amazon.com returned 125 products on October 20.  Many likely contain steroids or related substances. 

But the concern doesn’t stop with steroids.  Dangerous new stimulants like methlyhexaneamine and methamphetamine analogs, appearing as pre-workout supplements, remain available at Amazon.com.  Of particular concern is the original version of Jack3D from USP Labs and Craze from Driven Sports.

Jack3dJack3D grew to be one of the most popular pre-workout supplements on the market over the last several years.  The original version contained the now infamous stimulant methylhexaneamine, otherwise known in the industry as DMAA, geranamine, geranium oil extract and other names.  Patrick Arnold, the BALCO chemist, filed a patent for the compound under the name geranamine and included it in his own pre-workout product.

The drug has become a huge concern for athletes.  Astonishingly, more than 758 positive drug tests for methylhexaneamine have been reported by World-Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) labs since 2008, when the first positive was called.  The drug was not banned in 2008.  It was added to the WADA Prohibited List in 2009.  In 2012 alone there were 320 positive test results representing 7.1% of the 4,500 total WADA findings that year, placing behind only testosterone (T/E, 1,202 findings) and marijuana (398 findings). 

Some manufacturers defended methylhexaneamine, claiming it was geranium oil extract and thus of natural origin and present in the food supply prior to 1994, which would make it legal according to the definition of an ingredient in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.  However, the natural origin of the DMAA used in supplements proved unfounded and the FDA has challenged its legality and safety for several years and considers the synthetic compound to be an illegal ingredient

Of primary concern is the potential for the compound to cause serious harm, and even death.  Sadly, Jack3D was implicated in the death of Claire Squires, a runner in the 2012 London marathon.

Jack3d

USP Labs has since reformulated the product and Jack3D Advanced Formularemoved DMAA  as have other manufacturers.  Despite the significant attention and health risks, the original version of Jack3D continues to be available at Amazon.com.  The reformulated Advanced Formula Jack3D is also available, marketed differently, suggesting that the distinction between the two products is known.  Neither includes ingredient information on the site.

CrazeCraze is one of the second generation pre-workout products that began to proliferate when methylhexaneamine was addressed by authorities.  It was Bodybuilding.com’s New Supplement of the Year in 2012.  The Craze label says it contains Dendrobex™, a trademarked extract of dendrobium, an orchid.  The label suggests that several suspicious compounds are components of Dendrobex™: N,N-Diethyl-B-Phenylethylamine and N,N-Dimethyl-B-Phenylethylamine, a CAS registered compound that is .004 mass units away from methamphetamine.  Eventually, the compound present in Craze was shown to be a methamphetamine analog, N,α-diethylphenylethylamine, with no known natural presence.

USA Today, in its exhaustive reporting on Craze and its manufacturer Driven Sports, elicited a significant response from retailers in the dietary supplement industry.  Giants like Wal-Mart, eBay, and Bodybuilding.com have recently pulled the product, but not Amazon.com. As of October 20, Craze remained available from 8 Amazon sellers.

We conclude with perhaps the most amazing example of all, involving a new category of developing drugs called Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, or SARMs for short.  SARMs are drugs that act like steroids by activating androgen receptors in the body.  SARMs are a relatively new category of drugs and thus many compounds are still in development and clinical trials where toxicity and safety are being evaluated.  One such drug is Ostarine, being developed for muscle wasting disease associated with cancer by a company called GT-X, under the name Enobosarm, GTx-024 and MK-2866

No need to wait for approval, it appears Ostarine is already for sale in dietary supplementsOstamax label - MK2866 at Amazon.com, IronMagLabs OstaRx and Cutting Edge Labs OstaMax are names that suggest the new SARM is an ingredient.  The label for OstaMax, included on Amazon.com, is astounding, stating, “FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY, NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION”, and yet there is a serving suggestion of one capsule daily!  The scientific name of Ostarine is on the label as is the MK-2866 naming convention used by GT-X.  Positive drug tests have already been seen with a female cyclist testing positive for Ostarine in June, and WADA reporting five SARMs as a whole in 2012.

The Amazon mission statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”  Steroids, stimulants, drugs not approved for human consumption, and other potentially dangerous drugs, we hope, were not the intended aim of that mission.  Providing a marketplace for illegal compounds masquerading as dietary supplements in the face of international attention, consumer health concerns, and serious adverse events seems contrary to the customer-centric focus.  At the very least it is dangerous and irresponsible.

Global marketplaces like Amazon.com help set preferences across a variety of products, including dietary supplements.  We hope that Amazon becomes a real part of the solution by making the choice to eliminate these dangerous products instead of continuing to perpetuate their distribution.

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Methylhexanamine information: Where can you find it?

Methylhexaneamine

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 info@antidopingresearch.org 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….

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

Methlyhexaneamine

Sadly, the rash of positive drug tests related to methylhexaneamine continues.  Yesterday, it was reported by Velonation.com 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.

Methylhexaneamine, the recent positives, and the larger issues

pillsMethlyhexaneamine is back in the news again, this time after 14 Indian athletes tested positive for it. This is not the first time this substance has caused a problem with positive drug tests.

Methylhexaneamine is a weak stimulant that was added to the WADA list of banned substances in 2010. It is very similar to the banned substance tuaminoheptane, which was added to the WADA list of banned substances in 2008. In 2009, five Jamaican athletes returned positive drug test results after using methyhexaneamine. Although methylhexaneamine was not banned at the time, sanctions were pursued based on the rarely invoked “and related substances” clause in the WADA rules. Methylhexaneamine is chemically similar to tuaminoheptane. It was added to the WADA banned list largely in response to this situation.

Methylhexaneamine has an interesting history. It was first trademarked under the name “Forthane’ by Eli Lilly in 1971 as a nasal decongestant. That trademark has since expired. Patrick Arnold of BALCO fame and the creator of THG and other designer steroids, was part owner of Proviant Technologies until recently. Proviant Technologies currently holds a patent on Geranamine, a synonym for methylhexaneamine. You can also find it under the synonyms Forthan, Forthane, Floradrene jack3d, DMAA, shizandol A, 1-3 dimethylamine and Geranamine. It is often used as a “party pill” in New Zealand. It is included in many dietary supplements around the world using synonyms that may not be recognizable as banned substances. Methylhexaneamine has been shown to be naturally present in geranium oil at amounts less than 1%. This natural presence is why it is argued that the drug should be allowed to be used in dietary supplements. Given all the confusion it is certainly plausible that the Indian athletes were unaware that they were taking a banned substance.

The larger issues here are why is methylhexaneamine banned in sport and still legal in dietary supplements. If it is a stimulant then it should be banned in sport but should it not also be considered a controlled substance and thus not be allowed as an ingredient in dietary supplements? If the reason it is allowed to be in dietary supplement is that the drug is present naturally in geranium oil in small amounts, then why is androstenedione not legal? Androstenedione too can be derived from plants. Anyone who takes dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals or anything in this category should be vitally interested in the question, what is actually in my dietary supplements?