Government regulation of dietary supplements will be discussed at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. The issue is being looked at because steroids and other banned substances are turning up in over-the-counter bodybuilding products.
The dietary supplements industry was deregulated by Congress in 1994.
"We're looking at whether there's adequate protection for consumers from getting these supplements, which have steroids or steroid-like substances," Sen. Arlen Specter, D.-Pa., who convened the committee hearing, told the Associated Press. "These tainted products can cause life-threatening injuries, such as kidney failure and liver injury."
The lack of dietary supplement regulation is a major problem for amateur and professional athletes who use OTC supplements, because they can be suspended if they test positive for a banned substance, said Don Fehr, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
"Players, like everyone else, have no idea what they're taking," Fehr told the AP. "I'm sure there are some good supplement products in the market that are safe, effective and accurately identified. I hope these products can be protected. But as of now, there is no way a player or anyone else can know with certainty that what they are taking is accurately described on the label."