MLB warns players against dangers of over-the-counter sexual enhancers

Guardian sport
Photograph: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has warned its players about the “very real risk” of over-the-counter sexual-enhancement pills after at least two players have attributed their positive drug tests to substances found in the unregulated products over the last year, according to an ESPN report published Wednesday.

Related: 'Like pitching in a rainforest': MLB fans and players struggle in brutal heatwave

The network obtained a copy of a memo sent by the league office on Monday warning that “these products are often contaminated with prohibited and unsafe ingredients” and that players can face discipline under the league’s drug policy even if they inadvertently ingested a banned substance.

“Sexual or male enhancement products present a very real risk for drug-tested players,” the memo said, according to ESPN. “The high likelihood for contamination or unidentified ingredients in these products underscores the importance of consuming only those products that are NSF Certified for Sport.”

Over-the-counter pills for sexual enhancement, which are frequently purchased at gas stations, are part of a sprawling unregulated industry that includes many products contain banned substances not listed on the label. The ESPN report said the Food and Drug Administration added 10 products to a list of more than 250 tainted sexual-enhancement supplements.

“We know from experience that a number of these sexual or male enhancement products – which are sold online, at retail stores, and on the black market, both in the United States and internationally – contain anabolic steroids and other prohibited substances.

“For this reason, we strongly urge players against taking any sexual or male enhancement product, from any source.”

The memo, which was addressed to all major and minor league players through both the league and the MLBPA, suggested that players who “suffer from erectile dysfunction or other legitimate issues related to sexual performance ... speak to a licensed physician about the various prescription medications (e.g., Viagra, Cialis, Levitra) available to treat those conditions.”