Effects of Tainted Supplements: Olympic Relay Team Loses Gold Medals

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In 2008, the Jamaican Olympic relay team set a world record time of 37.10 sec in the 4 x 100 meter relay, earning Usain Bolt and his team gold medals at the Beijing Games. While relay team members had tested negative for banned substances after the race, a sample from Nesta Carter was later found to contain the banned stimulant methylhexanamine. The team, comprised of Bolt, Carter, Michael Frater, and Asafa Powell, was forced to return their medals.

Carter told the International Olympic Committee that his coach advised him to take two supplements, but he was unaware they contained banned substances. Methylhexanamine is more commonly known as DMAA and is found in numerous supplements that are promoted as stimulants, weight loss aids, or athletic performance enhancers.

The FDA issued a public warning saying the stimulant could narrow arteries and blood vessels, causing blood pressure to rise potentially leading to tightening of the chest, arrhythmias, shortness of breath and heart attack. The FDA reported that it had received at least 86 reports of health issues in people who consumed DMAA products, including heart problems, psychiatric disorders, nervous system disorders and at least five deaths. The government agency warned that the products may be especially dangerous when consumed with caffeine.

Warning Letters Issued to DMAA Supplement Makers

The FDA issued warning letters to all companies known to be making DMAA products that their products must be removed from the market, but many supplement makers simply make subtle changes in the chemical composition of the products and repackage them with a different name to sidestep FDA actions.

Because of this, consumers should be careful not to consume any product that contains:

  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine
  • 1,3-Dimethylpentylamine
  • 1,3-DMAA
  • 2-Amino-4-methylhexane
  • 2-Hexanamine, 4-methyl- (9CI)
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexanamine
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexylamine
  • Dimethylamylamine
  • Geranamine
  • Geranium extract
  • Methylhexanamine
  • Methylhexanenamine
  • Pelargonium graveolens extract

While the FDA is focused on removing these products from the market, distributors and retailers who continue to sell them may also be held accountable for injuries consumers suffer because of the products. Once the FDA issues a public warning, retailers and distributors have a duty to do everything they can to protect their customers from these dangerous products.