Health experts and anti-doping agencies are warning track athletes about a dangerous new supplement ingredient, methylhexanamine (MHA). Also known as dimethylamylamine, MHA is marketed to athletes under the guise of “geranium oil” or “geranium extract.” But don’t be mislead. This product is not safe and is not approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Recent cases involving the unintentional ingestion of MHA have resulted in sanctions of 3 to 12 months. Please consult with your athletes and review their supplement intake before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea.

In addition, the IAAF has begun to implement the biological passport program, and plans to introduce “an unprecedented blood-testing program” at the championships that will measure certain blood markers (reticulocytes, hemoglobin, and red blood cells) in athletes’ blood samples against those of a normal person and a normal athlete to identify irregularities.

A team of experts will then analyze the levels and opine on whether irregularities (if any) in an athlete’s blood are evidence of doping and/or the use of a banned performance enhancing substance like EPO. The irregularities don’t necessarily mean that the athlete is doping; irregularities can also be caused by an abnormal or pathological condition of the blood.

The biological passport program got a huge boost in credibility recently at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) when the CAS panel presiding over the cases of cyclists Pietro Caucchioli and Franco Pellizotti found that the program is a valid way of demonstrating that an athlete has committed an anti-doping violation.