ignorance of the ingestion source is no defense. USADA operates under a policy of “strict liability,” meaning that athletes are responsible for any banned substance they put into their own body, through any means. U.S. doping officials long have warned against using nutritional supplements, which, becuase they are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, essentially set their own standards for safety and purity.
Olympic hopeful Kicker Vencill was banned in 2004 from swimming competition for 4 years as the result of testing positive for steroids. The athlete retained California attorney Howard Jacobs and sued Ultimate Nutrition of Farmington, CT, claiming that the multivitamins he took were contaminated with steroid precursors that yielded his positive test results. Vencill was successful in his litigation, in the amount of $578,635, but lost the ability to compete for several years. (See USA Today, 5/25/05, “Banned Swimmer wins case over supplements,” by Ben Fox).
Court documents revealed that laboratory testing of the multivitamin demonstrated that it was “contaminated by three anabolic agents…in sufficient concentrations to have caused the positive doping results.” (Court of Arbitration for Sport, pp.7-9). The Court of Arbitration for Sports noted (at p. 19) that, “Kicker Vencill has definitely established that the Ultimate Nutrition Super Complete Capsules that he was taking…were contaminated with steroids.”