Another positive drug test related to dietary supplement contamination

Sadly, another positive drug test related to use of a dietary supplement surfaced yesterday, this time in equine sport,  Don’t let this situation happen to you; there are ways to protect yourself.

According to the story, a British endurance rider, Christine Yeoman, had her horse test positive for ractopamine, a potent beta agonist, at an event on August 9, 2009.  She had been giving the animal Neigh-Lox, used to prevent gastric ulcers.  Neigh-Lox was manufactured in the United States by Kentucky Performance Products.  Traces of ractopamine were found in the product in subsequent testing, and the company has admitted to the contamination.

For those who are not aware, drug testing usually works according to strict liability, meaning if a drug is detected resulting in a positive test, the individual is responsible for the presence of the substance in the body regardless of where it might have originated.  If the issue is related to a contaminated supplement, the athlete or rider still faces possible sanctions.  The human sport system considers supplement use to be voluntary, and thus even if supplement contamination is the source of a positive drug test the athlete is usually held responsible.

In this equine case, the rider had to spend more than €200,000 to clear her name and win an unprecedented ruling from FEI.  The ruling stated: “Even ordinary feed is often mixed and includes several additives which may be contaminated. Even feed without additives may be contaminated.  Equestrian sport on a high level can be said to require the use of feed supplements to care properly for such elite horses.  In the tribunal’s opinion, PRs [persons responsible, i.e. the rider] are not the proper party to bear the risk of supplements contaminated at the manufacturer level.”

Unfortunately, testing for banned substances in dietary supplements is not mandatory and the risk of contamination remains an issue.  Testing options that can protect against these issues are available to the general public, athletes, and the dietary supplement industry.  We operate our own such program at Banned Substances Control Group.  For more details, please explore