NFL Bans Coaches From Relationships With Supplement Companies. But NFL and WWE Doctor Joseph Maroon? Ka-Ching!

ThePostGame.com is reporting that the National Football League ordered new Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson to sever his ties with a supplement company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (S.W.A.T.S), whose product IGF-1 contains a banned substance.

See Eric Adelson’s story at http://www.thepostgame.com/features/201101/tpg-exclusive-nfl-orders-raiders-head-coach-hue-jackson-end-ties-company-linked-bann.

“We have a long-standing policy that prohibits coaches from any relationship with a supplement company,” said Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s director of corporate communications.

Curiously, no such policy applies to team or league physicians, such as Dr. Joseph Maroon, a long-time neurologist for the Pittsburgh Steelers and member of the NFL concussion policy committee. I have been reporting that Maroon endorses a supplement called Vindure, which is based on the red-grape abstract resveratrol, and is an owner of the company that licensed Harvard Medical School research to Vindure’s producer, Vinomis Labs.

So far as I know, Vindure contains no substances banned by the league. But Vinomis Labs is a supplement company.

In addition – and as I am reporting here for the first time – Dr. Maroon endorses another supplement called Sports Brain Guard, described as a “daily tri-delivery bioactive protection program” for concussed athletes, from Irvine, California-based Newport Nutritionals. See Maroon’s piece of the hype at http://www.sportsbrainguard.com/sbg.aspx.

Maroon also is medical director of World Wrestling Entertainment. Dr. Bryan Donohue, WWE’s consulting cardiologist, is an owner of Vinomis Labs. Both Maroon and Donohue are at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, whose officials refuse to comment on whether Vinomis Labs and other outside business interests are covered by a recently revised and much-publicized ethics policy.

When I asked NFL spokesman Greg Aiello if the league had a parallel ethics policy for team physicians, he said they were bound only by the codes of their professional medical societies. I will forward this post to Aiello and invite comment on why the NFL bans its coaches but not its doctors from relationships with supplement companies.

WWE has not commented on whether it has an NFL-modeled or any other conflict-of-interest policy for its consulting doctors.

This is all of particular relevance because the Federal Trade Commission, on the request of Senator Tom Udall, just opened an investigation of the promotional claims of the NFL’s official helmet supplier, Riddell. Those claims are based on NFL Charities-funded research conducted by Maroon.

Irv Muchnick

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