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IAAF bans two athletes for DMAA doping; both blame food supplements

By Shane Starling , 17-Nov-2011
Last updated on 21-Nov-2011 at 18:44 GMT2011-11-21T18:44:49Z

IAAF bans two athletes for DMAA doping; both blame food supplements

Portuguese and South Korean athletes have received two-year bans from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for methylhexaneamine (DMAA) doping violations at the recent World Championships in South Korea.

The Portuguese medium-distance runner, Sara Moreira, has challenged the ban by blaming an unnamed sports supplement brand she said was contaminated with DMAA, which is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

While such a situation rarely exonerates an athlete from culpability, her position has received backing from the Portuguese Athletics Federation (FPA), which says its own testing revealed the brand in question contained DMAA not listed on-label.

Spotless?

FPA president Fernando Mota said in local press reports that the tests showed, “there was no intention; [Moreira] is a spotless athlete."

Moreira and the South Korean sprinter, Lim Hee-nam, were the only athletes to test positive for doping offences at the meeting, and they join nine other athletes serving bans for DMAA doping according to the IAAF. Hee-nam has also fingered contaminated supplements.

Contaminated sports supplements being blamed for athletic doping offences is nothing new and industry representatives were keen to highlight the existence of testing programmes such as the Informed Sport scheme run by HFL Sport Science that publishes a list of tested and approved supplements.

There are currently more than 100 supplement brands on the Informed Sport list and UK Sport backs athletes to safely use products from it as being free of almost all WADA-banned substances including DMAA.

While the listed products are certified safe by HFL Sport Science, the recent methylhexaneamine scrutiny did prompt it to note on its webpage that, "...all registered products undergo a rigorous testing regime, which includes analysis for methylhexaneamine, along with a wide range of other prohibited compounds."

But most national sports bodies continue to warn their athletes against the use of sports or other food supplements, while the industry argues that the bulk of its products are safe and should not be grouped with products manufactured by ‘outriders’ engaging in economically motivated adulteration.

DMAA concerns

That aside, the fact the only two offenses from the World Athletics meet were DMAA-linked will add volume to alarm bells already ringing about the controversial stimulant that is often off the regulatory radar, yet commonly found in pre-workout and weight loss products.

There is an ongoing debate about whether DMAA can be sourced from geranium plants and extracts, or is purely synthetic in origin, a difference that which can affect its regulatory status depending on the country. It goes by a host of names including 1,3-dimethylamylamine, dimethylamylamine, dimethylpentylamine, forthan, forthane, floradrene, geranamine and geranium oil.

International activity around the substance is building with Italian investigators believed to be on the verge of publishing data on the presence of the material in sports products there. One observer said prosecutions could come sooner rather than later as Italian law bars both synthetic and natural versions (if they exist) of DMAA in food supplements. Brands like USP Labs Jack3d are being srcutinised for their composition.

“…a dangerous amphetamine-like ingredient…”

Just this week, a class action has been lodged in a California court against DMAA-containing products described in the action as containing, " a dangerous amphetamine-like ingredient that poses a serious health risk and has potentially life-threatening side effects."

See our sister site NutraIngredients-USA.com for more on that later today.

The UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) recently issued a warning after British shotputter Rachel Wallader in 2010 had an IAAF two-year ban reduced to four months after presenting the same innocence plea as Moreira.

However Wallader can feel fortunate to have her ban reduced as the banned substance was listed on the product label although as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, not the WADA-listed methylhexaneamine/dimethylpentylamine.

“There are an increasing number of positive cases for methylhexaneamine for which athletes are facing a ban from sport,” said UKAD chief executive, Andy Parkinson.

“Whether intentional or unintentional, its presence in the system can lead to an anti-doping rule violation and a ban from sport.”

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