Incorrect label leads to fine for Maximuscle

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The Independent Online

The food supplements company, Maximuscle, previously endorsed by Doug Walker and Mark Richardson, has been fined £1500 after one of its products was found to be incorrectly labelled.

A protein powder called Promax-159, advertised as "lactose-free", was found to consist of 4.9 per cent lactose. The substance is a relatively harmless sugar and is not on the International Olympic Committee's banned list for athletes, but which can cause stomach cramps to those allergic to it.

Although there is no suggestion that any of the company's products have caused athletes to be banned or contain illegal substances, the news will make unsettling reading for any competitors using nutritional supplements to enhance performance, particularly in the light of the recent IOC study indicating that 20 per cent of such supplements contain contaminants.

Both Walker and Richardson were given two-year bans after the banned steroid nandrolone was found in their system, although the latter was cleared after an independent analysis.

Maximuscle was taken to court by trading standards officers in Southampton on 26 September. The Watford-based company said that the offending product – no longer produced – was four years old and part of a promotional batch of sachets. The company said it had relied on the labelling of the manufacturer of the product, a company based in France, and added that it now produces all its own products.

Zef Eisenberg, head of Maximuscle, told Athletics Weekly this week: "We were taken to court to be made an example of. This product was four years old and has nothing to do with Mark Richardson. It also has nothing to do with contaminants."

A spokesman for the trading standards office at Southampton City Council said that the case had come up as part of a 'routine test' into sports supplements conducted two years ago. "One week we might be looking at tins of beans. Another week it might be cucumbers,' he said. "We are checking to see that products contain exactly what they say on the label."

UK Athletics, and the International Association of Athletics Federations recommend that athletes do not take nutritional supplements.