Supplements could benefits from Major League Baseball report

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplements

A new report investigating the use of performance-enhancing
substances in Major League Baseball (MLB) could help the
dietary supplement industry, whose products are often blamed
for misleading athletes into consuming banned substances.

The dietary supplements industry has expressed its approval of the findings of the Mitchell report - issued last Thursday - which delves into baseball's steroid history for a long-term solution. "The Mitchell report lends substantiation and credibility to what we have been saying for a long time: dietary supplements have been a convenient and often unquestioned scapegoat to hide illegal steroid use,"​ said David Seckman, executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA), in a statement. Among many recommendations, the report puts forth the notion that MLB should move on from its doping scandals, not waste time trying to laying blame on particular players, and instead focus on making sure this does not happen in the future. However, for this, the report indicates more funding needs to go towards prevention and education. Culminating in a 400-page document, the investigation was headed by former Democratic senator George Mitchell. The outcome has proved controversial for professional baseball because it has involved pinpointing many names and teams. "While this investigation was prompted by revelations about the involvement of players with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the evidence we uncovered indicates that this has not been an isolated problem involving just a few players or a few clubs,"​ states the Mitchell Report. "It has involved many players on many clubs." ​ Dietary supplements have taken a hit across many professional sports categories as they often have been blamed as a delivery system for banned substances - something industry says is misleading. The actual situation, say industry advocates, is characterized by illegal substances masquerading as dietary supplements rather than legitimate dietary supplements using banned ingredients. "The idea that athletes were unwittingly ingesting steroids in the dietary supplements they innocently purchased at a health food store has been exposed as the ridiculous notion it always was,"​ said Seckman. "The fact that the performance enhancing substances purchased in the report needed to be obtained surreptitiously by a third party, typically at a high cost, should have been evidence enough to an athlete that the product was likely to be illegal." ​ The Mitchell report found that most educational programs on the use of performance-enhancing substances focus on the health effects of longterm use. However, the report reckons this does not go far enough and there is room for educating on the use of healthier lifestyle approaches, such as the consumption of dietary supplements. The investigation drew on the experience of Dr. Jay Hoffman - a former professional athlete and expert in the field - who claims the educational approach used up until now is not enough of a deterrence for players who do not believe they will in fact take the substances over a long period of time. "To counter this skepticism, Dr. Hoffman proposes that education about the dangers of performance enhancing substances be combined with education on how to achieve the same results through proper training, nutrition, and supplements that are legal and safe,"​ wrote Mitchell. ​This positive approach could put dietary supplements in a more positive light. In the meantime, for manufacturers, the report could also represent an advancement in terms of industry credibility. "Clearly, calling such products "dietary supplements" was an attempt to gain legitimacy and mask their real contents,"​ said Seckman.

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