MENOMONIE, Wis. — Ten Menomonie High School multi-sport athletes discovered that a pre-workout energy drink they consumed this week will cost them the first three games of the WIAA football season.
The drink, called C4 Extreme, contains a banned substance called Synephrine HCL, a potent adrenergic stimulator. According to bodybuilding.com, Synephrine HCL, “augments energy levels and ATP synthesis” and is structurally similar to Ephedra. It goes on to say, “The compound enhances adrenaline stimulation and promotes weight loss by amplifying fat burning, metabolism, and thermogenesis.”
Menomonie High School Activities Director Bart Boettcher said while Synephrine HCL is not specifically listed as a banned substance under the school’s code, it is listed by the WIAA and falls under the category of performance enhancing drugs and carries the same punishments as alcohol or tobacco consumption.
“It’s the same exact punishment,” said Boettcher, who noted that due to an honor clause (for turning themselves in) the punishment was reduced from a 50 percent ban to three games.
“I had a tip from the WIAA to investigate,” Boettcher said. “I went right down to the weight room and met with Coach (Joe) LaBuda, and we asked, and they said ‘Yeah’ and even showed us. Our kids didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. … They said they were told that this was the best stuff by a GNC employee.”
“I feel for them,” Boettcher said. “They were not aware that this was a banned substance. … When it happens, we’re going to enforce the code. There’s no hiding or getting around it.”
All 10 players are junior and seniors on the football team. Since football will be the first athletic season after receiving the suspension, they will not permitted to play against Merrill, Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire Memorial.
While the situation is an unfortunate one for all involved, Boettcher said, “The health and safety of the athletes is the most important thing in the world. … Ignorance is not an excuse.”
Wade Labecki, deputy director of the WIAA, said, “Many of the products available in your local store have a variety of ingredients and some of the ingredients are stimulants. Supplement ingredient lists can be very difficult to decipher as problematic ingredients can have multiple name variations.
“There are common names (synonyms) that are listed in dietary supplements for the same stimulant. It’s very possible that athletes are not aware of what’s actually in the product they’re taking and athletes should be careful with any product.”