Supplements not a steroid scapegoat, says senator
performance-enhancing substances rather than blaming dietary
supplements and government regulation, according to a Utah senator.
Senator Orrin Hatch this week published an op-ed in the Washington Post, which heavily criticizes sports players and unions for pointing to dietary supplements as a "preposterous" excuse for steroid use. This kind of blame-dumping is not a first for the supplement industry. Dietary supplements have repeatedly 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. Indeed, a new report published in December suggests just that. The Mitchell report, which investigated the use of performance-enhancing substances in Major League Baseball (MLB), put 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. Senator Hatch highlighted in his op-ed that the Mitchell report had found that performance-enhancing substances used by players were obtained surreptitiously by a third party, typically at a high cost. "Dietary supplements - or at least the ones governed by DSHEA - are available over-the-counter. So who shells out big bucks to a shady dealer in a back room, when he can easily purchase dietary supplements from drug stores and health food stores across the country? Someone who doesn't want what is legally on the shelf," he wrote. His comments were published the day pitcher Roger Clemens testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Hatch maintained that, contrary to the claims of the sports world so far, Congress has not been negligent in its regulation of dietary supplements. Indeed, the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) actually enhanced federal regulation of supplements to ensure safety, he said. "Dietary supplements and the laws that regulate them are not and have never been the problem. The problem is that a few athletes will do anything and take anything to get a competitive edge," he wrote. "The sooner Major League Baseball acknowledges this, and does something about it, the sooner it will cease to be a problem." To access Senator Hatch's op-ed, click here.