Effective July 1, the NFL will begin testing players for ephedra, a enhancement/stimulant. The addition to the current testing program was agreed to by the league and the Players Association. The agreement was reached by Gene Upshaw, executive director of the union, and NFL executive vice president Harold Henderson.
Ephedra will fall under the league's substance abuse policy, and any player testing positive will be subject to a four-game suspension. Last year, the league banned ephedrine along with methylephedrine, pseudoephedrine, fenfluaramine, norfenfluaramine and phentermine. Ephedrine was banned by the NFL last year after experts said the substance often found in strength-building food supplements can cause seizures, strokes and even death. Ephedra is the herbal form of ephedrine, used for weight loss, building muscle or boosting energy. These substances present significant health issues for athletes and others engaged in strenuous physical activity.
The NFL is the first professional sports league in the United States to ban ephedra. The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the International Olympic Committee are the only other sports entities to ban the use of ephedra.