First Do No Harm


Reader uberkind sends along a link to this story about the latest front in the war against muscular baseball players. Bureaucratic overreach, proving a negative–what's not to love about the Food and Drug Administration?

The government will crack down on the steroidlike supplement taken by Mark McGwire, telling companies Thursday to quit selling androstenedione unless they can prove it's not dangerous.

Anabolic steroids, which build muscle, are controlled substances. But andro—because it is a precursor, not the steroid itself—has long been marketed as a dietary supplement and been sold over the counter. U.S. law lets dietary supplements sell with little oversight to ensure they're safe.

But the FDA is citing a seldom-used provision of that law that defines as a dietary supplement natural ingredients that were on the market before 1994—and says manufacturers must prove that any new ingredients are safe before selling them as supplements.

NEXT: Bum Rap

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  1. What’s next? Spinach?

  2. Wait a minute – I don’t want aluminum bats or juiced balls in the professional game, but they’re not against the law to sell. This is crazy.

  3. Well blow me down!

  4. I am so sick and tired of all this bullshit. But what do I expect from our do-gooder, drug warrior pols?

  5. This is not a typical drug warrior issue. Pop on a few minutes of CSPAN and you’ll see… This is men playing sports.

    Celebrity idolization, protecting the luster of awards — “performance enhancers” tarnish the image of awards, because nobody can be sure they were won by proper means… Our Congress often gets caught up in water-cooler controversy, Sports and Entertainment are news, and news means people are unsatisfied.. and dear God, somebody must save them.

    But this case, this case is not even about media portrayed pop-culture. It is the baseball and football fans in Congress, vicariously playing their favorite sport(s). If I was a fan, I’d certainly be against Congress regulating enhancers — I want to see the most beastly biological machines scientifically possible. For more than a million dollars a year, they better be a walking chemical lab. I demand it of my musicians, my actors and my political talk-show hosts.

  6. I’m not saying that it is a drug war issue, per se, but it sure makes it easier to villify performance enhancing “drugs” because of the pervasive anti-drug attitude.

    I am a sports fan and I totally agree – I want to see the best athletes possible. If they are the best because of pure skill and hard work, great. But I also encourage them to reach even higher pinnacles of human strength, endurance, speed, etc through science.

  7. This is not a typical drug warrior issue.

    Well, the typical drug warriors are involved:

    “Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., that would permanently end over-the-counter sales of andro, as well as the newly unmasked steroid THG, and subject them to the same prescription restrictions as apply to anabolic steroids.”

    In addition:

    Medical studies show andro raises testosterone above normal levels. Side effects of elevated testosterone include acne, baldness, and a drop in the so-called good cholesterol that could lead to heart disease.

    …the side effects sound identical to eating lunch every day at McDonalds!

  8. Kwais:

    re: why does congress need to get involved in baseball?

    To paraphrase John McCain from yesterday:

    “Baseball is the national pastime. If the national pastime loses respect, then the terrorists have won. We have to fight terrorists in Peshwar or we’ll be fighting them in Petco Park. Urrr, wait. Everybody stare at my comb-over!”

  9. Also,

    “For the children! For the love of God, doesn’t anyone think of the children anymore?”

    Anytime the Senate holds hearings relating to sports, Charles Barkley should be required to provide commentary. No – he should be sitting on the committee.

  10. I demand the FDA cease and desist immediately until it proves it has done something useful in the last 10 years that I couldn’t have done myself.

  11. I am beginning to wish that mccain had stayed in nam.

  12. Perhaps we should apply the innocent until proven guilty concept here.

    The FDA should have to prove that the substance/drug/herb/whatever is harmful, not have the maker prove that it isn’t.

  13. It was absolutely sickening to listen to Orrin Hatch and the FDA commissioner telling the public that they need to be protected and how the government is there to do just that and threatening anybody with prosecution if they dare defy them.
    If those that find a good side in all the mounting controls and criminalizations still don’t notice that the slope is getting more slippery and the pace is accelerating, they deserve what they will get: The government intruding right into their private lives.

  14. It’s interesting that this week’s steroids-in-baseball hearings come following the news of the terrorist attacks in Spain. I raise this point because the Republicans have built their argument for supporting President Bush on the premise that he’s serious about the “war on terror” and the Democrats are not. Senator McCain is a leading advocate of this premise. Yet here the Republicans (with Democratic support, to be fair) have spent nearly a week sermnizing over whether there is rampant steroid use among a group of 900 or so Major League Baseball players.

    Something to think about next time the President and his supporters tell you we that we’re still “at war” with the terrorists.

  15. Skip, you’re a genius. Steak and Lowenbrau, please.

  16. Think of it this way. Every day they spend shooting off their mouths about steroids is another day they can’t pass another huge welfare state increase or decide to invade another wickedly poor country.

    I’d be thrilled if the Senate decided to argue about grass vs. Astroturf for the next month.

    – Josh

  17. Speaking of beef:

    BOSTON – Opening Day ticket holders at Boston’s Fenway Park this year who are Catholic face a dilemma: the Boston Archdiocese said since the afternoon game against the Toronto Blue Jays falls on Good Friday, they must refrain from eating meat, including hot dogs, sausages and pepperoni pizza.

    “We’re already getting all kinds of requests for dispensation to eat meat,” said the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese. However Coyne said that after a meeting to discuss the requests, Boston church leaders decided a baseball game was too weak an excuse to duck the no-meat rule.

  18. Nothing like an election year to encourage grandstanding on an issue of no importance. As to the issue at hand, I view andro (and steroids for that matter) as just one more in a series of medical improvements to human performance. How many pitchers prolong their careers with “Tommy John” elbow replacement surgery that wasn’t available thirty years ago? Do all their wins count as much as those of Cy Young? What about knee surgery?

  19. “why does congress need to get involved in baseball.”

    Baseball is treated so special by government that the government has a foot in the door to reach in and have a say.

    A-Steroids retain nitrogen bonds, and nitrogen is the difference between muscle (C H O +N) and and fat (C H O). That does come with some risk of side effect and other unwelcome outcomes, perhaps in cancer, enlarged hearts, etc.

    Wrestlers are taking them by the shovel. Simply look at the bulk, the lean bulk of WWF athletes.

    Look at the field event records in Track. Steroids. Look at Ben Johnson, the steroid freak,
    100 dash champion. His trainer could be liable due to Johnson being retarded.

  20. McCain is doing penance for doing something stupid that got him shot down over VN, then, years later, accepting bribes from the S & L magnates.

    I’m doing penance for having been a stockbroker, but, at least I’m doing it by laying low. He’s doing it by using government to tilt at windmills.
    If he lives long enough, he’ll do penance for the way he’s doing penance.

  21. Ya want clout? Let the Vegas sports books establish the rules. They have a real interest in keeping athletic events straight. I don’t really care. Except for football, of course.

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