Peak Condition

Professional sports team, Olympic ocommittees and the NCAA are working hard to rid athletics of steriods. Hoping to gain an extra edge, many athletes are consuming supplements that could be deemed illegal. Since dietary supplements are not classified as drugs, they are not subject to FDA regulations. Like many schools, Florida State is looking to educate its athletes concerning supplements.

Florida State's athletic training staff has a simple yet effective approach when athletes have questions concerning dietary supplements.

"If there's any concern or any question, bring in the supplement and let's look at the label and try to identify any ingredients that might be banned (by the NCAA)," Seminole assistant trainer David Walls said.

FSU's training staff, under the direction of veteran Randy Oravetz, is considered one of the nation's finest.

Oravetz oversees the training operation for all 17 intercollegiate sports offered by FSU. His staff is responsible for the care of FSU athletes -- that includes the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries.

Daily chores also includes questions concerning supplements, considered by many as a key component to an athlete's well-being and performance.

But there also comes concern with those supplements. For example, a recent International Olympic Committee study found that 15 percent of tested supplements from around the world contained steroid precursors that weren't listed on the label. Among those products solid in the United States over over the Internet, 19 percent were found by the study to be tainted.

With more than 3,000 dietary supplement products available to athletes, it's extremely difficult for trainers to recognize and evaluate every ingredient.

However, they FSU trainers do familiarize themselves with problematic ingredients and keep a line of communication open with athletes.

Georgia Tech, for example, inititates policy awareness concerning supplements when a student-athlete takes a preseason physical. Purdue University also provides its athletes with one-on-one discussions.

"We talk to our athletes and let them know where they can find a list of common supplements that are banned (by NCAA)," Walls said.

"You talk about how they are disguised or mislabeled. You want to be pro-active."

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