Ephedra: In the news

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 3:17 pm

In August 2001, at least 10 members of the Northwestern University football team collapsed during training. The training consisted of a routine sprinting drill. The drill proved to be deadly for Rashidi Wheeler, a 22-year-old safety.
Despite suffering from asthma, Wheeler had succeeded in the tough world of college football. After Wheeler collapsed, he was taken away in an ambulance, and another player informed coaches that Wheeler had taken Ultimate Orange, an ephedra supplement. Trainers and paramedics tried to help Wheeler catch his breath with his inhaler. Unfortunately, the inhaler did not help and Wheeler died.
A former Northwestern University football player claimed that Ultimate Orange, a powdered performance-enhancing dietary supplement, was popular among football players. Ultimate Orange was marketed as a strength-building supplement. Next Nutrition, the company that manufactured Ultimate Orange, had discontinued the product and all other ephedra supplements prior to the Northwestern incident.
Although toxicology reports showed ephedrine in Wheeler’s system at the time of his death, the Cook County coroner claimed ephedrine did not cause Wheeler’s death. The Northwestern incident is not the first time that a college football player who was using ephedra supplements died. In February 2001, Florida State University football player Devaugn Darling collapsed and died after a workout. Darling’s autopsy also showed that he had taken an ephedrine supplement prior to his death. The presence of ephedrine in his system, however, does not prove that it caused his death.

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