Heinonen, J. (2001). Drug trends - Rising concerns over supplements. Keeping Track. On-line at www.runnersworld.com/keepingtrack.

The death of Northwestern University football player Rashidi Wheeler has focused media interest on the risks of nutritional supplements. Although his death was ruled to have been the result of exercise-induced asthma, his use of ephedra supplements has raised questions.

The media is also giving more attention to the rising use of supplements among middle and high school students. A Healthy Competition Foundation survey projects that 390,000 American children (all kids, not just athletes) between the ages of 10 and 14 (about 2 percent of that age group) have taken performance-enhancing substances. A similar survey done two years earlier found not a single child in that age group who had taken such substances. Five percent of kids ages 12-17 said they had used performance-enhancing supplements or drugs.

Forty-two percent of college athletes in an NCAA survey revealed that they used supplements. The NCAA also noted with concern an almost eight-fold increase in ephedrine use by women gymnasts, from 1997 to 2001. The survey showed 8.3 percent of the women gymnasts using ephedrine this year, up from 1.1 percent.

Creatine, the most popular supplement, is being marketed to kids in cookies, reports ESPN.com.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that "the best hope for placing limits on (the supplements) industry lies with the one group that can make money off tragedies."

"Product-liability lawyers will have to play sheriff. And if that means attorneys have to chase an athlete's ambulance, let's just hope they're running as fast as someone on Ripped Fuel."

Johnnie Cochran has already signed on in the Wheeler case.

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