A new study published in the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis suggests that Craze, a popular exercise supplement, contains a chemical that shares properties of methamphetamine.

The study comes on the heels of an investigative report that exposed Craze supplement designer, Matt Cahill’s history of introducing weight loss supplements and other dietary supplements that have caused serious health issues and even death in users. The report cited a study done by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which found amphetamine-like substances in Craze.

In 2002, a 17-year-old, Leta Hole, died after overdosing on a weight-loss pill developed by Cahill in a suicide attempt. The pill contained a chemical pesticide, DNP, banned in the 1930s after users lost their sight. Cahill had posed as a landscaper to buy the DNP and then manufactured his own weight-loss pills with a friend, Jason Sacks, and sold them online. The two men were reportedly making around $30,000 a month off selling these toxic pills. Because Hole’s death was labeled a suicide, Sacks and Cahill were not charged with her death, but they were charged with mail fraud and releasing a misbranded drug, among other charges. Cahill was sentenced to two years in prison, but did not enter police custody until 2005. In the meantime, Cahil developed another supplement steroid, Superdrol, which caused liver problems.

Craze was released in 2011 by Cahill’s latest business, Driven Sports, and is marketed as a pre-workout energy supplement.

“Imagine having something available that helps you train BEYOND YOUR LIMITS. Imagine seemingly endless energy. That something would give you unmated results, where others have failed. That something is Craze, the ultimate in pre-workout power,” reads the official description.

After USA Today published their report on Cahill’s malpractices and the speculation that Craze contained meth-like drugs not approved for regular, human consumption, Craze and Driven Sports adamantly denied all allegations of illegal activity pertaining to their products.

“We provide our thousands of satisfied customers with a tool to enhance their workouts by increasing their energy. Craze always has been and will continue to be safe when used as directed,” Driven Sports responded via their website.

Driven Sports claims they performed multiple tests on Craze and never found any traces of amphetamines. Bodybuilding.com, who recently named Craze the number one dietary supplement of 2012, insisted that all amphetamine tests for Craze were found negative, but have elected to suspend their marketing of Craze while they conduct more tests.

“These are basically brand-new drugs that are being designed in clandestine laboratories where there’s absolutely no guarantee of quality control,” co-author of Craze study, Pieter Cohen, told USA Today.

In the study, scientists found N,aplpha-diethylphenylethylamine (N,a-DEPEA), a compound that appears related to the highly addictive drug, methamphetamine. This new compound is also extremely addictive, and was also found by a study done by a group of Japanese scientists. In a their new expose, USA Today notes that the compound is not listed as an ingredient on Craze’s label and is not found in the main ingredient listed by Craze, dendrobium orchid extract.

According to Dr. Cohen, N,a-DEPEA is a ‘cousin’ to meth created using methamphetamine as a base.

“Criminal-chemists start with a known drug – in this case methamphetamine, then in their factor they start making little changes to it. Here, they pop a few extra carbon and hydrogen molecules onto it. But the main structure/backbone/skeleton of the drug remains the same,” Cohen wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

“Alarmingly, we have found a drug in a mainstream sports supplement that has never been studied in humans. The health risk of using supplements adulterated with a drug should not be underestimated,” Dr. Cohen said of the meth-like compound.

Wal-Mart has taken Craze off the shelves in light of the recent findings, and the official Driven Sports website lists Craze as being out of stock. However, Craze is still available from other online sources and can also be found at GNC stores. Driven Sports has yet to comment.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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