TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey and Senator John A. Girgenti banning the sale or distribution of creatine and other similar performance enhancing substances to minors was approved today by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.
“Right now, a teenager can buy these supplements at a store, believing they are safe,” said Sen. Codey (D-Essex). “In reality they could actually be using a de facto steroid substance, which could lead to a number of irrevocable side effects. At the very least, their misuse of these products could lead to permanent organ damage.”
Sen. Codey noted that the danger, especially in young athletes, is that high doses of these substances for prolonged periods can lead to kidney and liver problems. He also noted that the Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention, which he authorized, recommended a ban on the sale of creatine and other performance enhancing supplements to minors, citing a study by the International Olympic Committee in which 14.8 percent of the 634 non-hormonal nutritional supplements sampled, tested positive for prohormones, a steroid precursor.
“A major problem with many supplements is the fact that they’re not controlled by the government, and you really don’t know what you’re putting into your body.” said Sen. Girgenti (D-Bergen and Passaic). “The problem with creatine is we have only short-term knowledge of what it does, and the long term effect on our younger athletes is completely unknown. I’m concerned about young athletes using creatine supplements because there is the potential for serious side effects such as damage to the kidneys and the risk of inhibiting the body’s natural formation of creatine.”
Bill S-1951 would make it a petty disorderly persons offense to sell or give creatine or a creatine analog to a person 18 years of age or under, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both. In addition, the violator would be required to perform 30 days of community service.
If the person selling or giving the drug is an employee of a public or nonpublic school, the violation becomes a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or both. The bill also provides that a school employee who is convicted of this offense is required to perform 90 days of community service.
Sen. Girgenti noted that creatine is a naturally occurring nitrogenous organic acid that supplies energy to muscle cells. It helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the substance that fuels short bursts of energy, like that expended in sprinting, jumping, swimming and weight lifting competitions. Some athletes take supplemental doses of creatine in hopes of improving their performance. Small doses can cause acute dehydration, stomach and muscle cramps and diarrhea. Another side effect is water retention, particularly in muscle tissue. For this reason, creatine is popular with many weight lifters.
A 2001 study by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association found that approximately 1.1 million young people aged 12-17 were taking these supplements, of which the American Medical Association has called for stricter regulations. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration classifies these supplements as a food, requiring manufacturers to only provide the agency with information on why their products can be reasonably expected to be safe.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.