Green, G. A., Catlin, D. H., & Starcevic, B. (2001). Analysis of over-the-counter dietary supplements. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 11, 254-259.

"OBJECTIVE: To determine if steroids containing over-the-counter (OTC) dietary supplements conform to the labeling requirements of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). DESIGN: 12 brands of OTC supplements containing 8 different steroids were randomly selected for purchase in stores that cater to athletes. There are two androstenediones (4- and 5-androstene-3,17-dione), two androstenediols (4- and 5-androstene-3beta, 17beta-diol), and 4 more are 19-nor cogeners (19-nor-4- and 5-androstene-3,17-dione and 19-nor-4- and 5-androstene-3beta, 17beta-diol). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: 12 brands of OTC anabolic-androgenic supplements were analyzed by high-pressure liquid chromatography. RESULTS: We found that 11 of 12 brands tested did not meet the labeling requirements set out in the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. One brand contained 10 mg of testosterone, a controlled steroid, another contained 77% more than the label stated, and 11 of 12 contained less than the amount stated on the label. CONCLUSIONS: These mislabeling problems show that the labels of the dietary steroid supplements studied herein cannot be trusted for content and purity information. In addition, many sport organizations prohibit OTC steroids; thus, athletes who use them are at risk for positive urine test results. In this article we provide the details of the analyses, a summary of the steroids by name and structure, and information on the nature of the positive test results. Athletes and their physicians need this information because of the potential medical consequences and positive urine test results".

Implication. The labels of nutritional supplements should not be trusted. Not only are products misrepresented, they also could contain banned substances that will lead to positive anti-doping test results. Some sports organizations are now testing supplements and endorsing those that are "clean" and reliably produced.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.