The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) presented a paper at a hearing held last week to discuss the growing use of illegal steroids in sport.
The hearing was held by the US Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Foreign Commerce and Tourism and featured testimonies from key figures in the field of baseball, the US sport most affected by steroid use.
John Cardellina, vice president for botanical science and regulatory affairs at the CRN, told the subcommittee hearing that the supplement industry shared the government's concerns about the growing use of illegal steroids.
But, he said, the CRN wanted to clarify the distinction between illegal, injectable steroid hormones and legal dietary supplements containing steroid hormone precursors. "Such legitimate dietary supplements are not manufactured from the same compounds nor do they contain the same serving sizes as the substances and products that are the focus of your inquiry - illegal steroid hormones," he told the hearing.
He added, however, that there were two serious concerns about legal dietary supplements containing steroid hormone precursors, namely the potential impact of steroid hormone precursors on young athletes still in the process of sexual maturation and the possibility that the use of such products might result in positive tests for substances banned by some athletic governing bodies.
In a bid to address these concerns, and in light of the fact that the sports nutrition supplements market is currently the fasting growing segment of the dietary supplement industry, Cardellina said the CRN was developing guidelines for the use of sports supplements by athletes of all ages, with emphasis on the use of such products by young athletes.
The draft guidelines include the following statement concerning steroid hormone precursors: "Individuals younger than 18 years should not use steroid hormone precursors. Because of incomplete sexual maturation, young persons may be more susceptible than adults to adverse effects of steroid hormone precursors such as "andro" (androstenedione), "19-nor" (19-norandrostenedione) and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)."
He added that the CRN was also working closely wih parents, coaches, manufacturers and marketers to provide them with the necessary information to correctly advise young athletes about the right choice of sports supplement.