【Advisory Notes】Death of a London Marathon runner caused by a DMAA-containing supplement

In light of a recent report on the death of a London marathon runner, HKADC would like to re-emphasize the risk of supplement for the attention to all exercise enthusiasts and the local sport community. The death of Ms. Claire Squires, a runner of last year’s London Marathon, has been ruled as being caused by the use of a DMAA-containing supplement (Jack3d) and in the combination with extreme exertion. In order to avoid similar tragedy and other related risks, all athletes and the public should fully beware of the followings before making any decision of using supplement.

Health risks

Numerous studies suggest that supplement could contain dangerous substances that are harmful to our body. For example, DMAA can narrow blood vessels and elevate blood pressure, leading to cardiovascular events ranging from shortness of breath to heart attack. Supplements that contain Ephedrine, Synephrine and Yohimibine could cause side effects such as kidney failure, seizures and heart complications. Other supplements, commonly used by bodybuilders, could contain various steroids that are not labelled on the bottle and could result in acute liver injury and kidney failure.

Risk of positive test

Unlike medicine, the production and labelling of supplements are not strictly controlled and some of the listed ingredients or undeclared ingredients can be prohibited in sport. According to the principle of strict liability, an athlete is responsible for the presence of any prohibited substance in his/her body no matter the use is intentional or unintentional. Therefore, athletes are strongly advised to consider such risk before making the decision to use supplement.

Under control as pharmaceutical product

DMAA is a dangerous stimulant that recently many countries, including Hong Kong, are regulating it as pharmaceutical product. Starting from 1 April 2013, the selling and distributing any unregistered DMAA containing products in Hong Kong would be liable to prosecution.

For more information on the supplement warnings mention above, please re-visit the  warnings previously issued by HKADC.

(More detailed report on the death of the London marathon runner can be found here )