Some of the most prominent industry leaders have criminal records
May 17, 2009

Because it's hardto stand out on the densely packed shelves of nutrition stores, life for newsupplements tends to be nasty, brutish and short. In an industry in whichcompanies must constantly retool and remarket products, some of the mostnotable figures are former steroid makers or traffickers who have reinventedthemselves.

• David Jenkinswon an Olympic silver medal in 1972 as part of the British 400-meter relayteam. Fifteen years later he pleaded guilty to his role in a major smugglingoperation that brought approximately $70 million worth of steroids across theborder from Mexico into the U.S. While awaiting sentencing he started sellingprotein powders from home. Jenkins was sentenced to seven years in prison butgot out in six months and in 1993 founded Next Nutrition, based in Carlsbad,Calif. One of the company's most popular products was Ultimate Orange, thesupplement containing ephedra that two teammates of Northwestern footballplayer Rashidi Wheeler said he took about an hour before he collapsed on apractice field and died in August 2001. Today the company, renamed NextProteins, makes Designer Whey, the official protein supplement of NBC'sweight-loss reality show, The Biggest Loser. Jenkins is Next Protein'spresident and CEO.

• Victor Conte,the founder of the notorious Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO), pleadedguilty in 2005 to money laundering and steroid distribution and served fourmonths in prison. Out of an office building in San Carlos, Calif., Conte is nowfocused on running a supplement company called Scientific Nutrition forAdvanced Conditioning (SNAC), which once shared office space with BALCO. SNAC'sbest-selling products are versions of ZMA, a supplement containing zinc,magnesium and vitamin B6 that purports to increase levels of serotonin, whichpromotes sleep and maximizes muscle healing after workouts.

• Patrick Arnoldcreated the designer steroids that BALCO dispensed and he helped popularizeandrostenedione, Mark McGwire's supplement of choice during his 1998 home runtear. In 2006 Arnold pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distributesteroids, for which he served three months in prison. Until recently he was thehead chemist for ErgoPharm and the head of research for its parent firm,Proviant Technologies Inc., a company that he cofounded; Proviant (now shutdown, according to Arnold) and ErgoPharm produced 6-OXO Extreme, the supplementthat allegedly caused Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero to fail an MLB drug test inAugust 2008. (Arnold's offices in Champaign, Ill., were raided by the DEA inJanuary, a week after Romero's suspension was announced.) Arnold maintains thatErgoPharm products are not spiked with steroids but that their supplements maycause a false positive test for a banned substance.

• Ron Kramer, thena bodybuilder, was convicted in 1997 in San Mateo (Calif.) County of sellinglarge quantities of two anabolic steroids and sentenced to six months of housearrest and three years' probation. Today he is the president of thePhoenix-based supplement company ThermoLife International. There areconflicting accounts of Kramer's alleged role as a law enforcement informantfollowing a probation violation in 2000, but his lawyer wrote in a courtdocument that Kramer "worked his little fingers to the bone" providinginformation to sheriff's deputies who were working on steroids cases. Kramerhas denied allegations that he was an informant in the BALCO investigation.

PHOTOCENTRAL PRESS/GETTY IMAGES (JENKINS)REINVENTED British Olympian Jenkins (top) and BALCO's Conte have forged new careers after doing time. PHOTOPAUL SAKUMA/AP (CONTE)[See caption above]

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