nfl-steroids1The NFL players who got suspended recently because of tainted StarCaps supplement were not the first “victims” of the weight-loss product as reported by the Tennessean.

According to David Black, a toxicologist of a drug-testing lab in Nashville, a professional player had tested positive for the banned diuretic bumetanide in 2007. Black refused to identify the athlete but he said that athlete had requested Black’s lab to conduct a test on the StarCaps. The result? It tested positive for bumetanide.

“It took us a couple of Ph.Ds and a $300,000 piece of equipment to verify that Bumetanide was contained in StarCaps,” he said. “How is somebody supposed to know buying it off the shelf or off the Internet what it really contains? We spent an enormous amount of resources trying to understand this product.”

Black, who’s been part of the NFL’s original steroid testing program way back in 1980s, said that there are other risks bumetanide offers to athletes aside from testing positive for it and getting banned.

“Bumetanide is a potent diuretic for an athlete or someone in a situation where they might become dehydrated,” he said. “They’d be taking a diuretic without the knowledge of it. That could lead to serious health considerations. That could lead to electrolyte abnormalities, cardiovascular collapse, cardiac arrhythmias, heart attack, stroke and death.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that StarCaps contained the banned compound and reported those findings in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology on its Nov-Dec 2007 issue.

Unfortunately, NFL players are not the types who scan scientific journals on their spare time and that’s too bad for the five players who got suspended for violating NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings and Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints – collectively known as the “Diuretic Five” –  tested positive for bumetanide during training camp.

The players, however, were allowed to rejoin their teams when a federal judge in St. Paul, Minn. issued a preliminary injunction to block their suspensions.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson said he needed more time to rule on the case involving the five players.

The league apparently has known that the StarCaps contained the diuretic but chose not to inform its players