Thursday, April 22, 2010

Positive-Test for LaShawn Merritt

LESSON: Know what you are taking and putting into your body...

I do not typically post or respond to positive tests from professional athletes, but this one…I believe…is different. I have great respect for LaShawn Merritt and received this news as quite sad…Ultimately the IAAF, USATF and NCAA expects every athlete to know what they are putting into their body and holds the individual responsible. Over the years many of our athletes have taken or continue to take supplements in the form of vitamins/minerals to help ensure they are healthy. Iron supplements are a good example.

Here appears a situation where our Olympic and World Champion in the 400M just wasn’t thinking and took an over-the-counter supplement that contained both DHEA and pregnenolone. Athletes, parents and coaches must know what the specific ingredients are within the supplements being taken…even if they are over the counter.

It can be a daunting task to know what substances are prohibited/banned by the various governing bodies within our sport (IAAF, USATF, NCAA, etc.) but we are still held accountable…Ultimately, the athlete is held accountable and as an athlete, you must now the specific ingredients of everything you put into your body.

Here is a list of the 2010 IAAF Banned Substances

As an athlete, parent or coach should you question whether a medication is allowed or prohibited we highly recommend that you call the USA Track & Field Anti Doping hotline at 800-233-0393.

For a link to the USATF site of frequently asked questions go HERE:
The question you should ask, “Should I be concerned about positive test if the medication or supplement I'm taking is NOT on the Prohibited List?"

As they answer on the USATF site, "Yes, you should be concerned because there is no complete list for prohibited substances. New names and new products are available daily, and foreign drugs may not appear in U.S. drug reference books. The list of prohibited substances is subject to change without notice. In addition, drugs not listed or different formulations of the same brand name may not be allowed. For any of these reasons, a "complete" or "safe" list is not available for distribution. You should call USADA's Drug Reference Hotline at 800-233-0393 to find out the current status of any substance you may consider taking."

Track & Field News PRESS RELEASE (April 22, 2010)

LaShawn Merritt shocked and saddened at positive tests due to inadvertent use of DHEA contained in over-the-counter male enhancement product, accepts provisional suspension.

Los Angeles, CA (April 22, 2010) - 400-meter gold medalist LaShawn Merritt has accepted a provisional suspension as a result of positive drug tests caused by his use of an over-the-counter male enhancement product that he used intermittently following the completion of the 2009 outdoor track & field season. This over-the-counter male enhancement product contained DHEA and pregnenolone, which caused LaShawn Merritt to test positive on 3 successive tests in October 2009, December 2009, and January 2010. LaShawn Merritt was not notified of any of these positive tests until March 2010, and was made aware only days ago that DHEA was the cause of the positive result. Recent investigation revealed that it was the over-the-counter male enhancement product that contained DHEA.

LaShawn Merritt’s use of this over-the-counter male enhancement product was completely unrelated to athletics, and occurred at a time that he was neither seriously training nor competing. His voluntary acceptance of a provisional suspension means that he has chosen not to compete until the case has been decided. In the interim, he will continue to train hard and take classes towards his degree requirements.

LaShawn Merritt issued this statement:

“As an athlete, and strong advocate of fair competition; I have worked very hard to push myself to the outer limits of my physical abilities without any performance enhancement drugs. I've always prided myself on doing what's right, and will continue to do so.

To know that I've tested positive as a result of product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around. I hope my sponsors, family, friends and the sport itself will forgive me for making such a foolish, immature and egotistical mistake. Any penalty that I may receive for my action will not overshadow the embarrassment and humiliation that I feel inside.

I am deeply sorry and hope that other athletes who take these types of over the counter products will be even more cautious and read the fine print, because if it can happen to me, it could happen to you.”

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