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ACSM applauds U.S. F.D.A. decision to ban ephedra


from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

December 30, 2003
For immediate release

Christa Dickey
Jim Gavin

Encourages critical look at additional supplements and drugs

INDIANAPOLIS The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the world leader in the science and medical aspects of sports and exercise applauds todays announcement of a federal ban of all ephedra products. ACSM has long held that the dangers involved with consuming ephedra and other similar supplements far outweigh any potential benefits. These dangers include increased risk of heart irregularities, disturbances of the central nervous system, exertional heatstroke, and gastrointestinal problems.

Todays news means an overdue step is being taken toward protecting our nations athletes and others who unfortunately use this dangerous substance for weight loss or to enhance performance, said ACSM President-elect William O. Roberts, M.D., FACSM. Tragically, this move comes too late for some, but perhaps we will finally see an end to the promotion and use of this potentially dangerous supplement.

Continuing to educate the public about the adverse health effects of such supplements is especially critical this time of year, as so many individuals are resolving to meet new personal fitness and weight loss goals in the new year. Ephedra and other supplements are often dangerously misused as shortcuts to such goals. People who exercise and/or train for competition in sporting events are exposed to risk because ephedra may impair the bodys ability to cool itself, thereby increasing the potential for heat-related illness during exercise.

Earlier this year, ACSM called for increased awareness about the dangers of ephedra in the wake of the death of Baltimore Oriole pitcher Steve Bechler, whos death was attributed primarily to his use of ephedra. ACSM continues to advocate for safe sports participation, free of steroid or other supplement use, and for more appropriate methods of increasing physical fitness or gaining sought after effects such as weight loss or competitive advantages.

ACSM is a member of the Coalition for Anabolic Steroid Precursor and Ephedra Regulation (CASPER), a group that proactively seeks regulation of anabolic steroid precursors as well as ephedra.

Ephedra is only one of a multitude of products available, legal or illegal, that can endanger the health and well-being of those who take them, said ACSM spokesperson Gary Wadler, M.D., FACSM, pointing out many supplements are now being marketed as ephedra-free. These products are particularly dangerous when used by individuals who do not understand their dangers. We must continue to promote awareness of these substances and look critically at any that remain unregulated.

ACSM will continue to be concerned about the availability of the over-the-counter drug ephedrine hydrochloride, which is the active ingredient in ephedra and that can be dangerously stacked or combined with other stimulants such as caffeine to enhance their stimulant effects. Wadler adds that sports organizations and governing bodies should continue to critically address the issue of access to the over-the-counter drug ephedrine hydrochloride and attempt to eradicate its abuse by athletes.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 International, National and Regional members are dedicated to promoting and integrating scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health and quality of life.