Neben, others sue Hammer Nutrition over contamination
Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
American cyclist Amber Neben, along with professional triathletes Rebekah Keat and Mike Vine, filed a lawsuit in a California district court last December against Hammer Nutrition, maker of Endurolytes. The lawsuit alleges that the product contained unlisted substances that caused all three plaintiffs to produce positive doping tests, and that further resulted in subsequent doping violations and sanctions.
Court documents obtained by Cyclingnews state that each plaintiff took multiple capsules of the product Endurolytes before competing in events in which each subsequently tested positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the banned steroid norandrostenedione found in urine. Arguing for the plaintiffs is Howard Jacobs, well known for his work with Floyd Landis’ case as well as other professional athletes involved with doping violations.
The lawsuit, which was initiated by Keat and her twin-sister Simone, states that Simone had the capsules in question independently tested by the WADA-accredited Doping Control Centre lab in Malaysia in June of 2006, all before retaining Jacobs. That lab reported to Keats that the capsules contained dehydroepiandrosterone and 4-androstenedione. Upon further examination, after repeated requests by Keat, the lab also found the samples were contaminated with norandrostenedione.
Hammer Nutrition’s response:
(WHITEFISH, MT) On January 23, 2008, Hammer Nutrition LTD. was served with a lawsuit filed by three athletes. The complaint alleged that a Hammer Nutrition product used by the athletes, specifically Endurolytes, was contaminated with banned substances which led to the athletes’ positive drug tests in 2002-2004.
On February 11, 2008, the plaintiffs issued a press release. It is unfortunate that the plaintiffs have decided to take their case to the court of public opinion. We trust that the media and the public will allow due process and the courts to deal with this matter before rushing to judgment. While we empathize with the challenges that these three athletes face by virtue of their positive drug tests, they are directing the blame for their situation in the wrong direction. We are certain that when all of the facts are presented in a court of law, Hammer Nutrition LTD. will be vindicated of any wrong doing.
It will be interesting to see where this one goes … it would also be nice to see Hammer put out a statement of some sort indicating that controls are in place to ensure that current manufacturing procedures do not allow any cross-contamination … my guess, however, is that their attorneys are telling them that would be tantamount to an admission that at the time the alleged contamination occurred they did NOT have any controls in place; because, of course, that’s the way that lawyers think.