© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lawmakers seek ban of dangerous supplement

Karen DeWitt/WRVO

A push to ban the fitness supplement DMAA brought a sports hero and parents who say they lost their son to the substance to the state Capitol.

New York State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein is pressing to ban the performance enhancing supplement DMAA, also known as Jack3d in New York state, saying it causes dangerous conditions like rapid heart beat, a spike in blood pressure, and in some cases, death from stroke or heart attack.

“This won’t be tolerated,” Klein said.

Leanna and Michael Sparling, are the parents of Michael Sparling, Jr., a Marine who died of a sudden heart attack in 2011 while taking the drug.

“He was an amazing young man,” said Leanna Sparling. “Because of this supplement, my family has been given a life sentence.”  

The U.S. military has since banned the supplement, as has the NCAA and the World Anti-Doping Agency, and Major League Baseball.

Former baseball player Jose Canseco, who has admitted to using steroids during his MLB career, says his message to young people wanting to get ahead is -- supplements aren’t the way.  

“Dietary supplements actually work against you,” said Canseco, who said combining them with other substances “can be deadly.”

Despite the numerous bans, DMAA is still legal. The federal Food and Drug Administration is studying its potential harmful effects, however, and has sent warning letters to manufacturers and retail and online suppliers.

Klein says he’d like New York state to act, and not wait for the federal government. He likens it to the delays over banning the diet supplement ephedra in the 1990s which was found to also be dangerous.

“We’re putting manufacturers on notice,” said Klein. “What they’re doing is nothing but a backdoor way to just peddle drugs to our young people, and that has to stop.”

Klein says the bill has a sponsor in the Assembly, Democratic Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel. Klein says he hopes that it moves quickly through the legislature. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.