Training Guru Blames Supplement for Baseball Team's Woes
June 8, 2000 (Cleveland) -- When the Cleveland Indians' usually
red-hot right fielder, Manny Ramirez, pulled up limping just a third of the way
to first base during a Memorial Day match-up with the Anaheim Angels, all of
Cleveland sighed, "Not again."
Faced with several key players on the disabled list, Indians
fans who have been treated to a five-year string of division championships and
two trips to the World Series are asking what's wrong. The answer, according to
team consultant Jeffery Stout, PhD, may lie at least partly in an
over-the-counter supplement called "Ripped Fuel."
Stout is an expert in weight training and conditioning who is
often called in as a consultant to professional teams. In this case, he tells
WebMD, the Indians' head trainer "tried to get me in Omaha, and when he
found out I was in Indianapolis he called every hotel looking for me."
(Stout was in Indianapolis for a meeting of the American College of Sports
Medicine.) "When he got me, he asked what I knew about Ripped Fuel, because
he says that all of his guys are taking it," says Stout, an assistant
professor of exercise science and director of the human performance laboratory
at Creighton University in Omaha.
A spokesman for the manufacturer of Ripped Fuel, TwinLab of
Ronkonkoma, N.Y., says the product is safe and that the company has received no
complaints about it. But Stout says the combination of two of the supplement's
ingredients -- caffeine and the Asian herbal extract ephedrine -- can add up to
problems for ball players. "The ephedrine binds to receptors in muscles and
causes a more intense contraction, but it also means that the muscle is slower
to release, so when you run there is a risk of pulls or tears," says
Caffeine, meanwhile, "adds the buzz that players like to
get because they think it keeps them up and alert in the later innings."
But caffeine works as a diuretic (as does chewing tobacco) "and, combined
with the fact that baseball players don't like to drink water anyway, many of
them are not properly hydrated. This lack of hydration also causes muscle
problems," says Stout, who tells WebMD that he advised the Indians' trainer
to get the players off Ripped Fuel.
Curtis Danburg, spokesman for the Indians, confirms that the
trainer contacted Stout for advice, but tells WebMD he won't comment farther.
"This is a developing problem," Danburg says.
TwinLab spokesman Jim Swords tells WebMD that Stout is "way
off base. "This supplement is used by many, many professional athletes, and
we have had no complaints like this." He says the supplement "promotes
lean body mass and has met all tests for safety and efficacy."
A 60-capsule bottle of Ripped Fuel costs less than $15 at a
health food store in Lakewood, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb that is about a 15
minute drive from Jacobs Field. A clerk manning Doc Heben's Nutrition Center
there one day this week tells WebMD that the supplement is a popular item in
the store. "We sell a lot of it to body builders," says the clerk, who
spoke on condition of anonymity.