Athletes are lying to us. They are lying and we believe their lies. Well, most of us do. You see, many Athletes that test positive for banned substances are blaming dietary supplements as the cause for the positive test. Lets examine the following statement from Iowa State linebacker Matt Robertson who was recently kicked off the Iowa state football team for testing positive for a banned substance.
“I take full responsibility for taking an over-the-counter supplement that is banned by the NCAA,” Robertson said in a statement released Monday. “I am paying a heavy price for a very bad decision, as I will never again wear an Iowa State uniform. I hope my example will serve as a warning to others contemplating use of dietary supplements.”
Statements like these are causing an unnecessary hysteria amongst the general public regarding dietary supplements. In Mr. Robertson’s quote, specifically notice the term “dietary supplements”. Dietary supplement is a very broad term, it covers literally thousands of different kinds of products. There is only one kind of dietary supplement that will cause a positive result for steroid tests. These supplements are called pro-hormones. Did a pro-hormone cause Mr. Robertson’s positive result? Possibly, but we will never know the truth.
Pro-hormones are used to raise the body’s testosterone levels, just like steroids, but at a much lesser effect. Any athlete who takes a pro-hormone knows what it does. They know that pro-hormones are designed to elevate testosterone resulting it more muscle mass and greater athletic performance. On top of that, pro-hormones say right on the bottle something to the effect of “Professional and amateur athletes subject to performance enhancing substance testing should consult with their sanctioning body before using this product as use of such may cause a reactive drug test.” Pretty clear isn’t it? You can’t tell me that Mr. Robertson can’t read, he is “an academic all-Big 12 performer who was as good in the classroom as he was on the field,” according to his coach Dan McCarney.
Blaming a positive test on one of these products may be true because they can cause a positive on a steroid test. However, it would also be very easy to blame a positive test on a dietary supplement when they athlete was actually using a steroid. Since the actual supplements are rarely made public, it is easy to blame a positive test on a dietary supplement.
It doesn’t make a difference because a positive test is a positive test, right? Wrong. By these athletes blaming their positive test on dietary supplements instead of steroids they are in effect “passing the buck” That is, they are claiming ignorance, instead of taking responsibility, and they are hurting the multi-billion dollar dietary supplement industry in the process. This is not okay, not only because it creates false beliefs among the public about supplements, but also because it gives the federal government a reason to further restrict what you can buy without a prescription.
Would you like to have to go to your doctor to get a prescription for a multi-vitamin? What if you wanted to buy a protein supplement? Would you want to have to go to your doctor for that? I didn’t think so. These athletes and their organizations are being extremely irresponsible by using broad terms like dietary supplements when describing positive drug tests.
The NCAA and other governing organizations should be forced to reveal what exact substance these athletes are testing positive for. By not doing so these organizations are allowing athletes to save face at the expense of an entire multi-billion dollar industry. By forcing the NCAA and other governing bodies to name the specific substance that was tested positive for they would eliminate all confusion on what is and is not the cause of positive tests. Either that or governing bodies including the NCAA and the press should be educated in the proper terminology of the dietary supplement industry. Painting reactive tests with the term “dietary supplements” is inaccurate, unfair and irresponsible.
Take for example Rafael Palmeiro, everyone remembers his overly compelling capital hill testimony. How ironic that just a few weeks later Rafael tested positive for Stanozolol, a steroid. Palmeiro tried hard to pass the blame. He blamed “tainted” dietary supplements, and when that didn’t fly he blamed a vitamin B12 shot. Well stanozol is a very specific and popular steroid. There is no possible way that a positive for stanazolol can be from dietary supplements or B12. After people started realizing this, Palmeiro started claiming ignorance, saying that he never knowingly took steroids. Well I guess Rafael will be making a good living after baseball considering he is the only person on earth that knows where to find pills that jump off the table into your mouth on their own. What a cool idea, the little blue pill could be come the little blue jumping pill. That would be neat to see.
There needs to be some accountability among athletes for their positive tests. Those who test positive should not be allowed to pass the blame onto the dietary supplement industry. These athletes should be shown for what they really did. Did they take a pro-hormone because they were too stupid to read the label? Or did they take steroids? Knowing that if they were caught they could claim ignorance and blame “tainted” supplements. We will never know until the governing bodies start naming specific substances responsible for positive tests.