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Oklahoma Identifies Supplements Given To Football Players

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The University of Oklahoma identified two drinks containing amino acids as the impermissible nutritional supplements it provided to football players last season, resulting in a secondary violation of NCAA rules.

In a fact sheet released Thursday night, the university said it gave players Cytomax and Endurox R4, which it identified as ``ready-to-drink health supplements.'' Oklahoma said both supplements ``are permissible substances for NCAA student-athletes to ingest, although it is impermissible for NCAA members to provide the products to student-athletes.''

NCAA bylaws allow schools to provide ``only nonmuscle-building nutritional supplements'' that give athletes additional calories or electrolytes. Schools aren't allowed to give athletes products containing amino acids.

California-based CytoSport makes several products under the Cytomax name, including the sports drink that it sent to Oklahoma. The university said it ordered the correct product, but instead received one that contained amino acids.

CytoSport vice president for corporate development Bobbie White said the company changed its formula several months ago to remove amino acids but inadvertently sent Oklahoma the original formula with amino acids.

``We were sending it to our other channels but not to them, and it was inadvertently shipped to OU. When CytoSport was notified of that product error, we immediately replaced Cytomax with the new product, new label that did not contain amino acids,'' White said.

``Everyone did the right thing. The University of Oklahoma did the right thing when they caught it and stopped it, and CytoSport did the right thing when they brought it back and replaced it.''

White said CytoSport removed the amino acid L-glutamine from the drink to make it comply entirely with NCAA guidelines. White said L-glutamine ``is not a banned substance by any of the governing bodies other than the NCAA. They're the only ones that don't want those amino acids in products at the athletic level for coaches to give to their students.''

White said dozens of colleges and universities use CytoSport products.

Telephone messages left at the New Jersey office of PacificHealth Laboratories Inc., the maker of Endurox R4, after business hours Thursday were not immediately returned. The company's Web site describes the Endurox R4 Recovery Drink as a product that helps speed muscle glycogen replenishment, rebuild muscle protein after exercise, reduce post-exercise muscle damage and reduce muscle stress.

Oklahoma's report said that the football team's strength staff failed to check the ingredients on the second product to see it contained an impermissible substance.

Oklahoma spokesman Kenny Mossman said he didn't know how much of the supplements athletes were given by the football team's strength staff, nor for how long the supplements were used.

The university's report to the Big 12 indicated the violation occurred in fall 2006, but Oklahoma said the unused Endurox was not returned until April 17 _ more than three months after the Sooners' season ended with a Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. The violation was reported April 23 and revealed in documents received through an open records request by The Associated Press this week.

Oklahoma self-reported the violation along with three others and said that they were ``deemed to be secondary violations by the NCAA.'' Secondary violations are less severe than major violations and carry lesser penalties.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions last year penalized Oklahoma for a major infraction when former basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff made nearly 600 impermissible calls to recruits. In April, Oklahoma again appeared before the infractions committee on allegations of major infractions that resulted in starting quarterback Rhett Bomar being kicked off the football team.

NCAA spokeswoman Gail Dent said in an e-mail that ``the NCAA does not endorse, support nor recommend any supplement product, and encourages student-athletes to rely on food for their nutritional needs, and to avoid supplement use.''

However, 89% of Division I-A respondents to a 2005 survey of NCAA member schools said that they provide nutritional supplements to student-athletes. Only 21% of Division II members and 15% of Division III members reported supplying supplements in the survey, which is taken every two years. The most recent data available is from 2005.

Budgets for nutritional supplements varied from less than $1,000 to more than $75,000 among Division I-A schools that participated in the survey. About 43% of schools spent less than $15,000, while about 29% spent over $50,000.

The Big 12 Conference does not have a policy on nutritional supplements beyond what the NCAA recommends, spokesman Bob Burda said.
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