NFL supplements clampdown,8659,8534296-23218,00.html

NFL supplements clampdown
From correspondents in Houston
January 30, 2004

A GROUND-BREAKING program to ensure nutritional supplement manufacturers comply with banned substance lists was unveiled today by the National Football League and its players union.

In what could become a framework for athletes in Olympic sports and other professional leagues worldwide, supplements should be available by May with an assurance label that products do not contain performance-enhancing substances.

“We’re not encouraging supplements. We’re not saying they work,” said NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw.

“For players who want to take these supplements, we have companies willing to work with the NFL to make sure there are no banned substances in them.”

Supplement manufacturers who partner with the NFL in the program will have all production lines monitored to ensure that no product – not just those on the NFL list – contains any substance banned by the American football league.

American-based NSF International, a private confirmation service that handles water purity and other issues of quality assurance, will ensure label accuracy by testing every product lot in the manufacturing process.

“I wouldn’t say it’s playing the policeman,” said NSF president Kevan Lawlor. “Players have concerns. This certification program is very important to ease those concerns.”

NSF, which has about 400 employees and a Belgian office, said the idea could be applied to other global supplement concerns with other ban lists. US track and field athletes raised the supplement purity issue in meetings last month.


Union touts system to check supplements

EDDIE PELLS / Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) — The NFL players’ union is setting up a program that encourages companies to put their nutritional supplements through rigorous testing to guarantee they’re free of banned substances.

“If the players take these products, this is a way for us to guarantee that what they take is what’s on the label,” executive director Gene Upshaw said Thursday at a union news conference, held annually during Super Bowl week.
A handful of players have been suspended by the league since it banned ephedra in 2002 as part of its strengthened steroid policy. Almost every time a suspension occurred, the players complained that they took products that claimed to be clean but weren’t.

The union is working with NSF International, an independent, nonprofit company that administers health and safety programs. Supplements that pass the purity test will carry a seal of approval from NSF.

But while the NFLPA touted its new checking system for supplements, all of its representatives did so with the caveat that they still didn’t endorse them.

“But supplements are part of our society,” said Trace Armstrong, a player representative. “The problem we were encountering was, by and large, an industry that was unregulated. There was no safe haven.”