Athletes Urge Action Against Hidden Steroids

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Athletes trying to avoid steroids could end up taking them anyway because of shady moves by drug makers, according to recent arguments before the Senate.
    
Several athletes stood before lawmakers Tuesday, claiming some manufacturers are sneaking steroids and other banned substances into dietary supplements. They're hoping new regulations can be made to help prevent that.

"It's all too easy for the junior high or college athlete to walk into a local health food store or log on to the Internet, and see the glossy labels and the bright, bold claims of 'legal' and 'all-natural," said Travis Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Online and in stores, people buy more than $2.5 billion worth of sport supplements -- many of them taken by athletes like Jareen Gunter.

"I believe around 90 percent of players or more take some kind of supplement," Gunter said.

The pill Superdrol could have killed Gunter's liver and even ended his life, had he not made it to the hospital in time.

"This was on a Sunday, and (the doctor) said if I had waited until Tuesday, I could have been dead," Gunter recalled.

Superdrol contains methasterone, which acts just like testosterone, according to Dr. Marie Savard, ABC News Medical Contributor.

"It doesn't sound like testosterone," she said. "(It) doesn't sound like a hormone, but it is. It has all those dangerous effects that wreak havoc with a young child's hormone levels."

At the Senate hearing Tuesday, Gunter warned the liver failure caused by that substance could still kill him.

"The doctor let me know it could come back at anytime," he said.

The hearing was to consider whether Congress should crack down harder on the supplements industry.

Tygart and others testified that there are hundreds to thousands of products containing the kinds of steroids that almost killed Gunter.

"He thinks, as we all believe, that because these substances are readily available that they must be safe and effective," he said.
    
Still, one lawyer representing pharmaceutical manufacturers argued Congress should not do anything because it has already done enough.

"It would be a mistake to alter the carefully crafted regulatory framework for all dietary supplements simply to deal with a small number of outlier products that can be effectively controlled under existing statutory provisions," said product safety lawyer Richard Kingham.

Tygart couldn't disagree more.

"The current law severely restricts the FDA in its ability to stop, much less slow down, the designer steroid gold rush," he said.

An FDA director agreed his agency has limited legal ability to prevent those steroids hidden in supplements from reaching the market.

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