New Bill Would Ban Steroid-Like Muscle Builders
Wed Oct 9, 6:00 PM ET
By Todd Zwillich

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) - A bill introduced in the US Congress Wednesday seeks to ban over-the-counter sales of steroid-like performance enhancers available in many health-food stores.

The measure would reclassify steroid precursors like androstenedione (news - web sites) and androstenediol as schedule III controlled substances, making them available only with a doctor's prescription.

The compounds, collectively known in gyms and locker rooms as "andro," become indistinguishable from anabolic steroids once metabolized in the body. As many as one fifth of gym-going US men in a January survey conducted in Boston acknowledged using "andro" over the previous 3 years.

Lawmakers said they were moving to ban store sales of the compounds because of their widespread use among teens and the associated health risks. Anabolic steroid use is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, liver damage and stunted growth in children.

"What 16-year-old doesn't want to knock the ball out of the park just a little bit further," said Rep. John Sweeney (D-NY), who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Tom Osborn (R-NE), a former coach of the University of Nebraska football team. "These drugs are obtained too easily by youngsters," Sweeney said.

The US Anti-Doping Agency already lists androstenedione as a banned substance for competing athletes. The US Olympic Committee (USOC) also endorsed the proposal, which is not expected to get a vote in Congress until next year.

"It's about the creation of fair play on the field of competition," said Lloyd Ward, the USOC's chairman.

By law, schedule III classification is reserved for substances with some medical applications but also the potential for abuse. Anabolic steroids, some barbiturates, and codeine are all listed under schedule III.

The Council on Responsible Nutrition, a dietary supplements industry group, had no comment on the substance of the new legislation. "We are reviewing the bill," lobbyist Mike Greene said.

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