Steroids Detected In Dietary Tablets

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A dietary supplement marketed to fitness and health enthusiasts on the Internet and in body-building shops contains anabolic steroids linked to two of the biggest doping scandals in sports history, including the renowned case involving East German Olympic athletes in the 1960s and '70s, according to a prominent researcher.

The supplement, which is sold under the name Halodrol-50, contains a steroid that closely resembles Oral-Turinabol, the principal steroid used to fuel East Germany's secret, systematic sports doping program, according to Don Catlin of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory.

Catlin said it also contains DMT, or madol, a steroid federal authorities say was developed for Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), the California nutritional supplement company at the center of a scheme to provide prominent professional athletes with undetectable performance-enhancing drugs.

Catlin analyzed the makeup of Halodrol-50 for The Washington Post, which purchased the product on the Internet and reimbursed the Los Angeles researcher for the cost of the testing.

The discovery provides further evidence that the country's multimillion-dollar dietary supplements industry also has become a clearinghouse for the distribution of anabolic steroids, which help build muscle and speed recovery from strenuous exercise but also can cause serious health problems when used in excess.

Last month, Catlin tested five other dietary supplements obtained by The Post and found that each contained anabolic steroids, four of which had not been previously detected. The Food and Drug Administration announced after publication of The Post's story on Oct. 18 that it had opened an investigation into the four companies marketing them.

An FDA spokeswoman said yesterday that the investigation is continuing. The official declined further comment.

It is illegal to sell anabolic steroids or any unapproved drugs as dietary supplements.

Halodrol-50, which costs $50 to $80 for a bottle of 30 tablets, is marketed by Gaspari Nutrition, a dietary supplements company based in Neptune, N.J., that sells bodybuilding and weight-loss products. Halodrol-50 claims on its label to "induce maximal visible changes in size and strength in the shortest period of time possible." It also recommends that the product not be used by anyone under age 21.

The Halodrol-50 label further states that it contains polydehydrogenated, polyhydroxylated halomethetioallocholane. Catlin described that chemical descriptor as "hocus-pocus." He said the language was outdated and vague and appeared to be deliberately misleading. The label makes no mention of DMT or other anabolic steroids.

"It's obfuscation," Catlin said. "There is no attempt to be clear and concise and to describe the product for what it is."

Rich Gaspari, owner of Gaspari Nutrition, did not respond to two requests for an interview made by telephone to associates at his company. He also did not respond to two e-mail requests for comment.

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