NCAA confirms suspension of Clemson star DT Dexter Lawrence

Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will not play against No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl after the NCAA confirmed a suspension Thursday for a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs, possibly ending the talented junior’s college career.

Lawrence is one of three Clemson players who tested positive for ostarine, a substance used to treat osteoporosis that can act like an anabolic steroid. The usual NCAA suspension for a failed PED test is one calendar year.

Earlier Thursday, Lawrence participated in No. 2 Clemson’s College Football Playoff media day session at AT&T Stadium and said he has no idea what may have led to the failed test. Lawrence was holding out hope additional testing by the NCAA would lead to the suspension being lifted.

But in a statement, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich says the NCAA confirmed the suspensions of Lawrence and two reserves.

“The athletic department will have no further comment on the matter this evening as it considers all of our options, including appeals,” Radakovich said. 

Media day for both CFP semifinals were held simultaneously with No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma meeting with reporters at the Orange Bowl in South Florida. Lawrence’s status has been the lead story going into Saturday’s games.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney announced earlier in the week the school had been notified by the NCAA about the failed tests by Lawrence, reserve offensive tackle Zach Giella and freshman tight end Braden Galloway.




 McKinney, Texas (December 20, 2018) – The Taylor Hooton Foundation is honored to accept the official endorsement of Major League Baseball’s Team Physicians Association (TPA) for its mission to educate the nation’s young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids and other Appearance and Performance-Enhancing Substances. The TPA joins the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and the Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society (PBSCCS) is officially supporting the Foundation’s efforts.

“The MLB Team Physicians Association is pleased to endorse the mission of the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the incredible work they’re doing to educate people, especially young people, about the dangers of appearance and performance-enhancing substances,” said MLB’s TPA President Struan H Coleman MD, PhD. “Since beginning this very personal mission back in 2004, the Foundation has, through education, had a significant impact in deterring countless numbers of people from using these very dangerous substances. As MLB team physicians, we are proud to support this mission.”

Said THF President Donald Hooton, Jr.: “We are so very happy, and honored, to have the MLB Team Physicians Association as our newest partner. To have such strong support from Major League Baseball and its teams as well as from the Athletics Trainers, the Strength and Conditioning Coaches and now the Team Physicians, it will make an immeasurable impact on the number of lives we can reach.”

Major League Baseball has supported and endorsed the Taylor Hooton Foundation since 2005 and has been instrumental in the formation of an “Advisory Board” of active major-league players which, for the third straight season in 2018, included at least one representative from all 30 teams.

“Over the past 13 years, MLB has been a proud sponsor of the Taylor Hooton Foundation,” said Jon Coyles, MLB’s Vice President of Drug, Health and Safety Programs, “and I’m excited to hear that the Team Physicians Association will support their educational efforts on this important topic.”

About The Taylor Hooton Foundation

The Taylor Hooton Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to educating North America’s young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing substances.  The friends and family of Taylor Hooton formed the Foundation in 2004 after his untimely death at 17 years old following his use of anabolic steroids.

For more information about the Taylor Hooton Foundation and its efforts, please visit and



Rick Cerrone / Rick Cerrone Communications

(914) 715-5491 /

Saugerties woman educating others on steroid abuse

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SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — Barbara Quick’s husband was the picture of health — until he died.

Shortly after noon on March 5, Quick walked into the family’s Glasco home where her husband Steven, 49, had been watching their grandson, and found him lying face down and non-responsive on the kitchen floor.

Quick called 911 and began administering CPR, but it was too late and her husband was declared dead at about 1 p.m. that day. She said her Steve’s heart was three times its normal size when he died.


“I will never be able to suppress the image of him laying there on my kitchen floor, and it being the worst nightmare I will never be able to wake up from,” she said at an Oct. 6 comedy night fundraiser in Steve’s memory.

Quick, 47, redirected her grief and has begun a campaign aimed at educating students and others in Saugerties and the surrounding area to the dangers of the anabolic steroids and performance enhancing supplements she believes killed her husband.

“If I can save a life through the passing of my husband’s life, my husband had a purpose,” she said during a recent interview in her Glasco home’s dining room.

Quick said Steve’s problems began with a mid-life crisis and mental health issues that led him to begin taking illegal steroid medication and over-the-counter performance enhancing supplements in an effort to improve his self-esteem and improve what she said was a distorted body image.

Dr. Paul Llobet, chief medical officer of the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, isn’t familiar with Steven Quick’s case, but said HealthAlliance recognizes the problem of anabolic steroid and supplement abuse. He said the drugs — which are available on the black market, over the internet and even over the counter in countries like Mexico and Canada — are dangerous.

Steroids, which Llobet said are unfortunately common among bodybuilders, student athletes and individuals in search of a more buff body image and increased strength, come with considerable risks.

Steroid abuse causes infertility, heart disease, shrinking of the testicles, “personality issues,” impulsivity, acne, increased sweating and body odor, along with premature death, he said.

It’s not uncommon for male users to develop breast tissue and for female users to grow facial hair. Before long, he said, “Now, I have a 17-year-old [male] kid taking tamoxifen to suppress [excessive] estrogen and thinking, ‘I’m big, I’m strong, I’m healthy.’ But they’re pretty sick inside.”

“They’re slowly rotting away and they don’t see it. You don’t see very many 80-year-old wrestlers,” Llobet said.

Additionally, the doctor, who is board-certified in internal medicine, said the body building supplements available at some stores and often added to the drug cocktails of users like Steven Quick can exacerbate the problem.

Those supplements are often billed as all natural products containing the “building blocks” of muscle tissue, Llobet said. While their ingredients are often “just filtered out” by the body, they can sometimes stress the user’s kidneys and exacerbate the problems caused by steroid abuse, he said.

In his remarks at the Oct. 6 fundraiser Quick organized at the Knights of Columbus in Saugerties, town Police Chief Joseph Sinagra, joined the chorus warning against steroid abuse.

“Steroids … do not produce a euphoric high, which makes [them] distinct from other drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana,” Sinagra said. “However, steroid users may and often do develop a substance use disorder just as addicting and in some cases just as fatal as these other drugs.”

He continued, “The most important aspect to curtailing abuse and the misuse of steroids and steroid substitutes is education, addressing the dangerous and harmful side effects, and symptoms of abuse. … Millions of people have excelled in sports and look great without ever using steroids.”

The October fundraiser raised money to bring speakers from the Taylor Hooton Foundation to Saugerties High School on Jan. 17, 2019, for an educational seminar which Quick said will be followed by a community program to be scheduled later that week.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation was, according to its website, founded by the parents family and friends of Taylor E. Hooton, a 17-year-old high school athlete from Plano, Texas, who committed suicide in 2003 after using anabolic steroids.

The foundation is dedicated to educating middle school, high school and college students about the dangers of using and abusing anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, unregulated dietary supplements and appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs, the website states.

Quick plans to bring speakers from the foundation to Saugerties High School to educate student athletes there and to hold a community-wide forum on the topic later the same week, she said.

“Sometimes,” Quick said, “You’re just as good as you are and you should accept it.”

She hopes to bring that message and, a heavy dose of education, to Saugerties in January. 

Reinstating Russia to global sporting stage a betrayal of clean athletes, says WADA’s ex-lead investigator

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s recent decision to reinstate Russia following the largest cheating scandal in the history of sport is a betrayal of clean athletes, writes the organisation’s former lead investigator Jack Robertson.

His views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.

The current administration of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has fatally failed in its mission to safeguard the World Anti-Doping Code – the rules that govern clean sport – and in the process betrayed clean athletes.

WADA’s sole reason for existence is to safeguard the rights of clean athletes to fair competition, and yet that has become a secondary concern, when it is a concern at all.

WADA’s recent decision to reinstate Russia to the playing field of global sport following the largest cheating scandal in the history of sport, and without Russia fulfilling even a bare-bones list of requirements, has rightfully brought the ire of both clean athletes and the global anti-doping community, and has forever tarnished its reputation.

Unfortunately, this most recent decision is in keeping with WADA’s culture in recent years as it responded to revelations about Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. As usual, WADA took the cowardly step of appearing to pass the buck to an expert committee that never had any real independence and predictably recommended that Russia be reinstated.

The preferential treatment that WADA affords Russia has been apparent from the outset. A 2014 documentary by German television station ARD first revealed shocking allegations of unparalleled Russian doping protocols – medical regimen forced on athletes in a manner not seen since the East German doping operation that left athletes with lifelong health problems.

Despite the ARD revelations, it took external pressure to compel WADA President Craig Reedie, who is also an International Olympic Committee board member – a clear conflict of interest – to launch an investigation to determine the truthfulness of the allegations.

His first instinct was to handle the matter internally with his colleagues in the Russian Sport Ministry, the very same ones who were suspected of overseeing the Russian Doping Machine. (I know this, because I am the investigator who was assigned to run the investigation, after media attention forced Reedie’s hand.)

Instead of investigating immediately, Reedie directed the WADA Communications Department to monitor international press coverage and determine if the documentary coverage would (he hoped) lose traction and fade away.

Reedie’s reluctance was apparent throughout the investigation, like when he authored a consoling email to the Russian Sport Ministry, which later became public.

WADA President Craig Reedie during the Pyeongchang Olympics. Credit: AP

That’s like the chief of police sending a private note to the target of an active investigation telling them he’s sorry, and not to worry. It is unconscionable, and would never be accepted outside of the pitiful state of affairs that is global anti-doping. At this point, it is no surprise that a journalist noticed that Reedie, on his wall at home, has a framed picture of himself with Russia’s president. (And not on one of those crime-solving corkboards.)

When Reedie was ultimately compelled to authorize an investigation, it corroborated what the ARD documentary alleged, and then some. At a November 2015 press conference, WADA’s Independent Commission Chairman (IC) Dick Pound announced findings of a Russian State Sponsored Doping Program on a scale never seen previously.

Rather than seek a course of appropriate punishment as indicated by its own dictate, WADA put aside its mission and partnered with Russia to take necessary measures that would enable Russian athletes to compete in the 2016 Rio Summer Games. It was an affront to justice, and pitted clean athletes from around the world against athletes who were known to have been recently doping. This action in itself supported clean athletes’ claim that WADA has now become the ‘fox watching the hen house.’

In response to time concerns, the investigation centered on Russian athletics. However, there was strong and compelling information revealing Russian doping was not confined to athletics but probably included all summer & winter sports.

Berlinger Special BEREG-Kits with A and B sample bottles were used in 2016 for human urine doping testing. Credit: AP

At the November 2015 WADA Executive Committee meeting, WADA Athlete Representative Beckie Scott shared her concerns that Russian doping included other sports and athletes, and requested a follow up investigation to address these allegations. In my opinion, Reedie rudely dismissed her request and said he would look into the matter himself to see if further investigative measures were necessary. I can comfortably say Reedie did no such research.

I was the lead WADA investigator into Russian state-sponsored doping, and he never requested so much as a briefing. In fact, the head of WADA never once contacted me in relation to the entire investigation. I was not aware of any follow up measures at all until after more allegations were made public in a New York Times interview of former Moscow anti-doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov.

Rodchenkov revealed doping was rampant in all Russian sports, and that his lab had swapped dirty urine samples for clean ones through a “mousehole” in the lab wall during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Top WADA officials acted surprised by Rodchenkov’s admission, but the reality is WADA had been aware of these allegations since July 2015.

Again, an investigation spurred by media pressure confirmed the allegations, and then some. Nonetheless, Russia was allowed to send one of the largest delegations in the world to the 2016 Rio Games and again for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Athletes who had been identified as doping in the investigation competed, and Russia suffered no real punishment.

Instead, the IOC imposed ridiculous and meaningless sanctions, like mandating that the Russian team could only wear two national colors on its uniforms, as opposed to all three—red, white and blue. Russian athletes were only banned from athletics in Rio, and that was by decision of the IAAF, not WADA or the IOC.

This latest decision to reinstate Russia is a continuation of Russian favoritism by WADA and the IOC. I believe with certainty WADA would have crucified a lesser country given lesser circumstances. So, what exactly did Russia do to deserve such leniency? Russia never admitted guilt, never apologized, continually lied, withheld and destroyed evidence, threatened whistleblowers, made counter-accusations, was uncooperative in testing athletes, hacked into WADA’s computer databases and revealed sensitive athlete data, and continued to dope its athletes.

Russian power and financial influence bypassed warranted punishment and a mandated road map of requirements, and thereby strong-armed their entry into Rio & PyeongChang.

WADA has become what it was originally created to rid – an organization inconsistent in fairly administering anti-doping rules & penalties that govern sport.

The lone bright spot is that WADA’s unwillingness to protect clean sport is now so obvious that clean athletes are being pushed to take up arms, so to speak, and push for change. For example, as soon as the decision to reinstate Russia was made public, American medalist Emma Coburn tweeted an open letter to the president demanding transparency about the thus-far opaque decision.

Every clean athlete should join her, and the whistleblowers who gave up their livelihoods, their safety, and in some cases fled their homes to expose Russia’s doping operation.

I have watched as WADA labels outspoken athletes “well meaning” and under the influence of “politically motivated” individuals as if these athletes are naive children, not the very people whose professions and dreams are being tainted and stolen.

To those athletes, I say: WADA does not care. If WADA were serious about listening to you, would they currently be considering changing the WADA presidency requirements in a calculated move to prevent an athlete advocate from seeking the office? My advice to athletes, be uncompromisingly committed in your determination to bring change. WADA will, in time, offer weak and diluted compromises with the intent of giving the appearance of change, while maintaining the status quo. With Reedie, the IOC and the international sport federations have a man who openly admits to a desire to avoid confrontation, no matter the cost.

Instead of fomenting change, Reedie has attacked the character of USADA CEO Travis Tygarts, who has had to fulfill WADA’s role as the leading voice and advocate of clean athletes. Tygart is not politically motivated, but rather driven by his passion for protecting clean athletes. Anyone who truly knows Travis would say the same. What is missing but desperately needed at WADA is someone with the integrity, moral fiber and the passion of Tygart or former Paralympic President Sir Phillip Craven.

Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Credit: AP

This is not meant as an endorsement of either of these fine men to replace WADA’s current standing president, but rather to say that their personal character traits and leadership abilities are what should by sought. During USADA’s investigation of the USPS Cycling Team, Lance Armstrong used powerful political and sport connections in an attempt to bring down USADA and Tygart. Politically speaking, there was absolutely nothing to be gained by taking on Armstrong, only great risk. I asked Tygart if he felt the investigation was worth the risk of losing his job and the possible dismantling of USADA that would occur if it failed, or perhaps even if it succeeded. Tygart told me that “doing the right thing is always worth it.”

In contrast, as I was beginning my official investigation against Russia following the ARD Documentary, I was told I finally got “my way” for receiving resources to conclude the Russian investigation. Instead of a pep talk about the value of the undertaking, I was told it would be my head on the chopping block if the investigation failed. I worked long days and all weekends to ensure it did not. Not because of the threat, but because I was vehemently appalled by the Russian doping allegations and I did not want to let clean athletes and whistleblowers down.

To use an analogy, WADA’s top leaders and executive board are like a diaper, badly in need of changing. The WADA Executive Board, is conflicted. Through their membership within the IOC or International Sport Federations, Board members priorities can and do oppose the mission of WADA .

It is my opinion that any responsible, legitimate board would have long ago removed and replaced the standing president and director general. What is required are leaders who do not need media polls to guide their decisions or outside pressure to do the right thing and to listen to the athletes, their true stakeholders. Leaders who know on which side of the fence they should be standing, that side which is independent of the influences of the IOC and international sport federations. The current leaders had their opportunities to do the right thing and failed, repeatedly. Athletes, the power to reclaim your sports rests in you and the time for change is now.

Article author Jack Robertson  is a retired DEA Special Agent. During his career, Robertson was instrumental in orchestrating the takedown of more than 70 underground steroid labs in the U.S. and more globally, as well as bringing  down the world’s largest anabolic steroid maker and eight companies that manufactured the substances.

Since retiring from the DEA, Robertson has channeled his love for sports and his law enforcement expertise to combat the spread of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).  As Chief Investigative Officer of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from 2011 to 2016, he collaborated with global law enforcement agencies to target and dismantle PED trafficking organizations.  He also served on a U.S. Olympic Committee panel discussing the fight against doping in sports.

A long time champion and supporter of the work of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, Mr. Robertson was awarded the 2017 Taylor Hooton Foundation Legacy Award. The Legacy Award is presented each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the fight against appearance and performance enhancing substance use.

The military’s obsession with energy drinks is contributing to PTSD

Getting adequate sleep is increasingly rare among the active duty military population, as frequent deviations from the body’s natural circadian rhythms due to a demanding operational tempo pit personnel in an ongoing struggle against the ever-persistent sandman.

To combat the sleep deprivation unique to this demographic, service members often turn to energy drinks, a prominent component of combat deployments that has become as paramount to mission success as any piece of protective gear or weaponry.

The prevalence of energy drink use in these settings is extraordinary. The life blood is virtually everywhere — and tends to cost nothing — resulting in an environment in which nearly half of deployed troops down at least one readily available crack can per day.

The authors of the study surveyed over 600 male infantry soldiers during a post-deployment period after the brigade combat team returned from a 12-month combat deployment to Afghanistan. Questions were designed to examine the association of energy drink use with sleep deprivation or insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, aggressive behaviors and fatigue.

What the authors found was that over the course of the month leading up to the survey, more than 75 percent of soldiers consumed energy drinks. More surprising, however, was that 16 percent “of soldiers in this study reported continuing to consume two or more energy drinks per day in the post-deployment period,” the authors wrote.

High energy drink use, which was classified as consuming two or more drinks per day, was significantly associated with those survey respondents who reported mental health problems, anger-related behaviors and fatigue, the authors found.

Those consuming less than one energy drink per week reported these symptoms at a significantly lower rate.

Also of note is that energy drink use in this Army infantry sample was five times higher than previous studies that analyzed consuming patterns of airmen and the general population’s youth.

Deaths due to tainted herbal medicine under-recorded

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A University of Adelaide forensic pathologist is warning that potentially harmful substances found in herbal medicines may be playing a bigger role in deaths of ‘health tourists’ than previously thought.

Professor Roger Byard is calling for closer checks during post-mortems for the presence of drugs and adulterants that originate from herbal remedies.

“There is a possibility that harmful materials found in herbal medicines are either contributing to, or causing, deaths of overseas travellers,” says Professor Byard.

‘These factors should be considered in all medical and legal cases involving recent overseas travel, particularly to Asian destinations.”

As part of health and wellness tourism, Western travellers to many Asian countries now often visit herbal centres. Free health checks may be performed at these centres and herbal products are offered for sale. They offer hope to a growing number of people looking for a cure for their health problems.

“This type of health tourism is based upon learning about and consuming traditional medicinal herbs and is an important part of the worldwide medical tourism industry,” says Professor Byard.

“Patients wrongly believe that they are being treated without using harmful chemicals or drugs.

Studies have found some herbal remedies have been adulterated with approved or banned drugs and even toxic heavy metals. Adulterants have been linked to a range of side effects of varying severity including hyper tension, heart problems, psychiatric disorders and in some instances even deaths.

“The composition of many of these products is uncertain, there may be contaminants and pharmaceutical additives, and their interaction with prescription medications is unpredictable,” says Professor Byard.

“However, the potential role and impact of herbal medicines, and possible adulterants within them, is usually not considered in medicolegal cases.

“Forensic facilities may be missing the presence of harmful or toxic substances when carrying out post mortem assessments not because the substances aren’t there but because pathologists may not be looking for them.

“When considering cases in which a person has died after taking herbal medicines sourced from overseas, forensic pathologists need to take extra care to consider the possibility that adulterants have played a role in the person’s demise,” says Professor Byard. 

Pro-Trump mail bomb suspect was a stripper and a ‘big meathead’ with a ‘dangerous’ steroid problem

Pro-Trump mail bomb suspect was a stripper and a 'big meathead' with a 'dangerous' steroid problem

The Democrat-despising Trump supporter suspected of mailing pipe bombs to 13 of the President’s most prolific critics used to work as a stripper and suffered from severe mood swings as a result of rampant steroid abuse, his former employer and a family friend said Friday.

Cesar Sayoc would dance at strip clubs that primarily attracted female customers, according to Tony Valentine, an event promoter in Ohio.

“Back in the 90s, he danced for some friends of mine,” Valentine told the Daily News in a phone interview. “He ran a show called ‘Girls Night Out.’”

Valentine described Sayoc as a muscle freak who had dreams of becoming a professional bodybuilder.

“He was just a big jarhead, a big meathead,” Valentine said.

Sayoc, 56, also used to manage some female strip clubs in south Florida, according to Valentine, who said he last saw him in West Palm Beach a few years ago.

Ronald Lowy, an attorney and friend of Sayoc’s mother, said the suspected mail bomber used to have a serious problem with steroids, resulting in his being charged with felony possession of the muscle-boosting drugs in 2004.

“He got in a diversion program to hopefully try to get him off steroids,” Lowy, who has represented Sayoc in multiple criminal cases over the years, told The News. “Sadly, it’s our understanding he went back and continued using them. We think that is probably part of the problem. Steroids can create heightened emotions and anger. It’s a very dangerous drug.”

Sayoc’s mom, Madeline Giardiello, a registered Democrat, was heartbroken by the news that her son stands accused of mailing explosives to high-profile Trump critics, including former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

“She finds all of this so shocking and painful,” Lowy said. “She’s asked me to express her empathy for the victims who had to receive these packages and be in fear. She’s in shock it could have been her son, and if so, she’s deeply regretful.”

Sayoc suffers from mental illness, according to Lowy, and is believed to have lived out of a white van covered in pro-Trump stickers. He used his since-suspended social media accounts to threaten Democratic politicians, peddle racist conspiracy theories and profess his adoration for President Trump.


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Four-Time Olympian Steps Up to Help Educate Young People About the Dangers of Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances

McKinney, Texas (September 17, 2018) – The Taylor Hooton Foundation announced today that four-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender has joined its ALL ME Advisory Board. The Taylor Hooton Foundation is widely acknowledged as the leader in the advocacy against appearance and performance enhancing substance use by the youth of America.

“We are honored and excited to have Katie join our ALL ME Advisory Board,” said Taylor Hooton Foundation President Donald Hooton, Jr. “It is so important that our young people have positive role models to look up to, especially when it comes to the topic of competing in sports and in life by doing things the right way and without the use of drugs. Katie is an incredible athlete who has reached the pinnacle of her sport who can inspire young people to following in her footsteps. Combine an inspiring athlete with our education campaign, and you have an effective weapon against this national epidemic.”

Uhlaender loves to ski and snowboard which was one of the reasons she began skeleton in 2003. She has competed in four Winter Olympic Games and eight World Championships!

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“As a long-time clean competitor, I’m excited to expand my commitment to training clean by joining the Taylor Hooton Foundation’s ALL ME Advisory Board,” Uhlaender said. “I believe in competing clean and representing my country with integrity. I’m excited to stand up as a positive role model of doing things the right way.”

The “ALL ME” Advisory Board was formed in 2014 with eight active Major League Baseball players and, by 2015, included at least one player from each of the 30 MLB teams.

See Katie’s THF web page here: 

About The Taylor Hooton Foundation

The Taylor Hooton Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to educating North America’s young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing substances.   The friends and family of Taylor Hooton formed the Foundation in 2004 after his untimely death at 17 years old following his use of anabolic steroids.

For more information about the Taylor Hooton Foundation and its efforts, please visit and

CONTACT:   Rick Cerrone / Rick Cerrone Communications, (914) 715-5491 /

Unregulated Dietary Supplement Could Damage Your Heart


New research suggests many “natural” weight loss and athletic supplements aren’t worth the risk, including higenamine, which is actually banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency

Ten years ago, Dr. Pieter Cohen noticed some of his patients were becoming ill because of the weight loss pills they were taking.

Cohen, an internist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard University, had some of those supplements tested and found that some of the pills and powders contained substances his patients didn’t even know were in there. Essentially, they contained drugs like ephedra, a natural stimulant promoted for weight loss that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since been banned for use in supplements.

Ephedra, like many other stimulants, is falsely promoted as being safer because it’s “natural” — i.e., it’s a substance that comes from plants.

“It is found in nature,” Cohen said. But just because something occurs naturally doesn’t mean it’s always good for us.

Most recently, Cohen has turned his sights on yet another plant-based stimulant: higenamine. Found in plants like the Sichuan aconite and nandina fruit, higenamine is a beta-2 agonist, which allows the smooth muscles in the lungs to absorb more oxygen. These stimulant qualities may pose a risk to the heart.


Because of how it works in the body, higenamine is marketed — also under the names norcoclaurine or demethylcoclaurine — as a supplement to help a person lose weight or increase their athletic performance. But, among the problems some athletes are finding, it’s been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances since the beginning of 2017.

 Despite this, it remains available over the counter in a variety of preparations in the United States.

One problem is that higenamine is still in supplements promoted to athletes, and new research suggests that in the largely unregulated supplement market, it’s often hard to tell exactly how much of it is actually in those pills and powders.

Between 0 and 200 percent

In a study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, Cohen and other researchers discovered vastly different levels of higenamine in different dietary supplements, from barely detectable levels to 200 percent of the listed quantity.

In their study, Cohen and his team analyzed 24 dietary supplements that were for sale in the United States before higenamine was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2007.

The samples were processed at the NSF International — an independent lab based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that also tests for the dietary supplement manufacturers — and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.

Some of the products tested were sold under the brand names Adrenal Pump, Burn-HC, Diablo, Gnar Pump, HyperMax, iBurn2, OxyShred, and Uplift and were labeled as a pre-workout, weight loss, or energy and focus aid. Two brands didn’t list a labeled indication.

 Of products sampled, the levels of higenamine in the supplements varied greatly. Five listed higenamine but didn’t contain any, while one, Razor8, contained up to 62 milligrams in one serving.

“No matter how carefully you read the label, you have no idea how much you’re taking,” Cohen told Healthline. “There’s so much leeway into what can go into supplements.”

 Cohen is quick to note that no clinical trials on higenamine have been conducted in the United States, and the only research that has had the same kind of scrutiny as a pharmaceutical drug has occurred in China. The doses administered were 2.5 milligrams, and those involved directly injecting higenamine.

“Two studies, both funded by a supplement manufacturer, purport to demonstrate the safety of orally ministered higenamine, but neither provides clinically relevant information,” the study states of the available research.

So, medical professionals aren’t sure how the drug responds when it’s ingested, as it’s the most common way people take it.

Higenamine can still legally to be sold in over-the-counter supplements because it was “grandfathered in” due to being a “botanical remedy” when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which exempts it from new safety testing standards, took effect.


Risky for competitive athletes

While over-the-over supplements can still contain higenamine, it’s a banned substance for competitive athletes in sports with strict anti-doping standards.

Higenamine isn’t Lance Armstrong-level doping, but the people getting caught with higenamine have to pay a real price. In 2016, before it was on the anti-doping banned list, a Liverpool soccer player tested positive for it and was temporarily suspended. (It was banned by some leagues, but not yet worldwide.)

In the United States, athletes caught using higenamine involved moms, weekend warriors, and others chasing a “natural” edge. While a few have received warnings, some have been banned from competition for two years.

According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, five people have been sanctioned for having higenamine in their system while competing. The majority of those cases involved amateur female weightlifters who had no other banned substances in their blood or urine samples.

Because of the dangers it poses to the careers of competitive athletes at all levels, as well as the lack of scientific research and varying doses found in supplements for sale in the United States, Cohen says higenamine and other substances in some supplements marketed as “natural” dietary aids come with many unknown risks.

“Consumers shouldn’t turn to supplements and think they’re safer than pharmaceuticals,” he said.

Nats promote healthy decisions to youngsters at Nationals Park
Aug. 22nd, 2018
WASHINGTON — The children at Nationals Park on Wednesday afternoon were supposed to gather in right field for a group photo at the end of the PLAY event, but many of them instead converged around Anthony Rendon, hugging and chatting with the Nationals third baseman.

“We got to take a group photo,” Rendon shouted.

View Full Game CoverageAfter a few moments, the kids assembled for the picture, then formed a long line to obtain Rendon’s autograph.

Rendon, Erick Fedde and Nationals trainers spent time with children for two hours Wednesday, when the Nationals hosted a Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth (PLAY) Campaign event. PLAY’s mission is to raise awareness for children’s health issues, the obesity epidemic and disability inclusion in the United States.

“It’s more out here getting them to run around for a little bit, try to get their minds off whatever they got going on and let them enjoy the last couple days of summer,” Rendon said. “I know a couple of the kids were like, ‘I go back tomorrow, so I got to leave early!’ … It’s good just to hang out with them, though. See them smile.”

PLAY, which started in 2004, has conducted more than 300 events throughout every Major League ballpark, reaching kids with messages about healthy decisions. The PLAY campaign linked with the Ruderman Family Foundation, MLB Charities, the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation for Wednesday’s affair.

In 2014, the PLAY Campaign became the first program in professional sports to include children with disabilities. Youngsters from the National Down Syndrome Society took part Wednesday.

The Nationals traded two of their best offensive players Tuesday and finished their win over the Phillies after midnight because of a one-hour, 42-minute rain delay. Nationals director of athletic training Paul Lessard said seeing the energy and joy the children with Down syndrome brought improved his attitude.

“The guys just really smile and they’re like, ‘OK, let’s do it,'” Lessard said. “They’re out here hustling, working their butts off. They bring smiles to our face, because they see us enjoying them as well.”

About 100 kids rotated between five stations, which included catching fly balls, hitting a ball off a tee with one’s hands, running through an agility ladder, throwing a bullpen session and learning about injury prevention.

Rendon threw fly balls to the participants while Fedde gave them tips in the bullpen on how to revamp their throws.

When the event ended, Rendon and Fedde remained on the field for about 10 minutes signing autographs.

“Growing up, any time anybody with some talent level above me was willing to work with me, it meant the world,” Fedde said. “I’d come home screaming to mom and dad about how awesome it was. I’m glad I can give back.”