A sports supplement marketed as giving "unrelenting energy and focus" has been found to contain an "emerging and potentially harmful designer stimulant" similar to methamphetamine.
"Craze," a popular pre-workout supplement sold at GNC and other retailers, was pulled from Walmart's online store following U.S. Anti-Doping Agency tests that found it contained amphetamine-like substances, according to USA Today.
A new study published Monday in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis found that the stimulant in Craze isn't listed on the product's label, and hasn't been studied in humans.
“Alarmingly, we have found a drug in a mainstream sports supplement that has never been studied in humans,” says Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who worked on the study. “The health risk of using supplements adulterated with a drug should not be underestimated.”
The substance, N,alpha-diethylphenylethylamine (N,alpha-DEPEA) was described as a stimulant with effects that are "likely less potent than methamphetamine but greater than ephedrine." Cohen told USA Today that it's difficult to gauge the compound's effects or addictive properties because it hasn't been studied.
"It might make you feel better or have you more pumped up in your workout, but the risks you might be putting your body under of heart attack and stroke are completely unknown," Cohen told USA Today.
According to the Boston Globe, Harvard researchers began studying Craze after two athletes who used it last year were "banned from international competitions after failing World Anti-Doping Agency drug tests." Samples bought from a GNC store and two websites were revealed to contain "21 to 35 milligrams per serving" of N,alpha-DEPEA -- a pharmaceutical-level dose.
Driven Sports, the company that markets Craze, has released various statements contesting the presence of amphetamines in the supplement, and has posted test results on its website claiming that the product is clean.
In July, a USA Today investigation revealed that a top Driven Sports official, Matt Cahill, is a convicted felon who has a history of selling risky dietary supplements.