Failed Drug Test – The Reason Why…

By the time of reading this you may have come across a number of claims through social media and blogs that state in some form or other that ‘Rob Riches failed a drug test’ or  ‘Rob Riches banned for drug use’.  It seems some people are so quick to come up with their own conclusions after reading a few tweets or seeing what someone has written on a blog.   I am very keen to set the record straight on this matter.

A USA TODAY investigation examines the track record of a supplement designer who has faced criminal charges related to weight-loss pills and a body-building product [July 25th, 2013]

Read the full USA TODAY story here.

Firstly, I want to explain the time-line of the events:

 Why did Rob Riches Fail a drug test

  • On Sunday 21st April 2013 I provided a urine sample after winning the UKBFF Men’s Physique competition in Leamington Spa, England.
  • One month later, on 21st May 2013, I was informed through email by the UKBFF that my urine sample had tested positive for a stimulant.  It was made clear at the outset that this was not anabolic steroids or growth hormone, but a stimulant.  Indeed, their analytic report showed that I had no signs of steroids of any sort in my system.
  • I was then informed by the UKBFF that I would receive an official letter from the UKBFF/IFBB with the AAF attachments from Kings College, and also I had the right to appeal and ask for the B-sample to be tested at my own (substantial) expense.
  • I immediately set about my appeal to the UKBFF as my reputation and competition title were at stake.  Despite the cost, I was keen to have the B-sample tested.  On 31st May 2013 I sent my appeal letter to the UKBFF.
  • On 5th July 2013, I received a decision from the UKBFF Anti-Doping Committee (ADC), which stated their findings that I had committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADVR) pursuant Article 2.1 of the IFBB Anti-Doping Rules, and that after investigation of the substance and it being a first offence, the decision of the UKBFF ADC was to suspend me for 24 weeks from 21st April to 13th October 2013 inclusive, and impose a relatively small cash payment by me to reimburse the cost of the test

Secondly, I want to talk about the substance involved:

Report on Urine Sample
Analytical Report

The substance was: N,alpha-diethyl-benzeneethanamine, which after research I found to be contained within a pre-workout supplement that I had taken called ‘Craze’, manufactured by Driven Sports.  I have learnt that this substance is classed as a stimulant (S6b) under the 2013 Prohibited list of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

This substance is not mentioned on the list of ingredients in the packaging of the ‘Craze’ product, and I was totally unaware that ‘Craze’ contained this substance at the time of purchase or consumption.

Craze pre-workout
Now known to contain banned ingredients
Craze available off the shelf
Craze is available off the shelf and even advertised on Walmart’s website!

I purchased off-the-shelf from a supplement store in Los Angeles.  I had purchased it on the 1st April (see proof of receipt) but had ran out of it almost a week before the competition, and therefore not listed it as one of the supplements I was taking at contest time.  This was not even a regular supplement of mine, and I had purchased it solely to try different brands and flavours.

I knew the product was widely available – including in supermarkets in the USA (see photo) – so I there were no ‘alarm bells’ ringing in my head about possible illegal ingredients.  This would have been the case with an ‘under-the-counter’ or not widely-available product.

It is worth commenting that this product is a pre-workout powder, designed to improve performance during the workout itself – not to have an effect on the physique itself.   I had tried many different pre-workout powders in the past few months, including ‘Craze’, and in no way had I planned on having a competitive edge by using such a pre-workout supplement. I used it simply to train harder. I’m sure other athletes can relate and understand.  We do not take pre-workout powder to enhance our physiques;

we take it to fuel our workouts.

I’ve been searching though all past emails to see if there were any rules or guidelines as to which supplements were not allowed, and cannot find anything that would have instructed me away from using an off-the-shelf pre-workout powder such as ‘Craze’.

My subsequent research into ‘Craze’ confirms that the supplement formula might be “spiked” with some sort of undisclosed stimulant formula – (see  Key to this research are the comments by Patrick Arnold, an organic chemist renowned in the field of performance enhancement and sports supplements.  He writes on his blog about ‘Craze’:

Since the ingredients on the label did not seem to list anything that could explain such remarkable effects, much suspicion arose over whether the product might be “spiked” with some sort of undisclosed stimulant compound.

In early February that suspicion grew when supplement retailers disclosed that federal police in Australia had told them that ‘Craze’ (which has been a popular import there) was found to contain a methamphetamine analog.  It appears from various sources that the analog they were referring to was N-alpha-diethyl-benzeneethanamine.

My mistake in unknowingly taking this substance as an ingredient in this supplement seems to be more than an isolated incident, as the statement below was mentioned in the email to me from the UKBFF:

“The stimulant found in your sample has been in a lot of positive samples in various countries, especially Australia and may be linked to food or drink supplements”

Thirdly, I want to give my own comments and views on this specific situation and banned substances in general.   I believe these comments add additional weight to my statement that I took the substance unknowingly:

  • The first point here is my overall attitude to the taking of any banned substance. My whole public position on substances has been clear for many years. I have always been 100% open and firm on this subject and am keen to state once more for the record that I have never knowingly taken any banned substance and never will – to do so would be to act totally against the principles I hold most fundamental to me in this sport.  This is a long-held belief that I will never knowingly stray from.
  • Additional to my principles on this stated above, I would like to add a marketing viewpoint.  I hope you can see that to suddenly change my forever-held belief in this subject for the purposes of this one contest would make no sense on my part in terms of my public position in the sport.  To suddenly make a massive change to my views on illegal substances for this one contest would put my relationship with those thousands of followers in jeopardy, and would indeed change the position I have in the sport forever.

It would make no sense for me to knowingly take a banned substance from a fan-relationship or marketing position viewpoint.

  • I am a great believer in the sport and in fostering health and fitness across all sectors of the community – and indeed agree with the aims of the UKBFF in terms of the sport’s development.  I joined the Federation with the intent of being loyal and committed, and am keen to be the type of person that the Federation can hold up as an example of clean-living, hard-training, banned-substance-free success – an example that would help bring more first-time competitors into the sport.I am proud to be a part of this sport and want to encourage newcomers, and I know of parents that have expressed concern about their teenage kids wanting to participate due to substance abuse.  Thanks to me, those kids can say ‘But look at Rob Riches!’, and persuade their parents to come into line – and the sport gains a new recruit.This standpoint with the UKBFF would be destroyed if I had taken any illegal substance; another reason to support why I would never take an illegal substance knowingly.
  • I was well aware in advance that this contest was to be drug-tested.  Drug-testing at shows is a policy of which I strongly approve.  The records of my various social media and other communications at pre-contest time record how pleased I was to hear that drug-testing was to be in place for the event.

I hope you can accept from the above that it makes no sense for me to have taken the banned substance knowingly.

I am happy to state that I would be happy and willing to pay for another drug test at any time, including prior to and after the British Finals to show that I do not use or rely on any banned substances for any reason – in training or in competition.

In case of any doubt, I restate that I had no knowledge that this pre-workout powder contained an ingredient that would jeopardize my competition outcome.  I am keen to state for the record that I have never knowingly taken any banned substance and never will – to do so would be to act totally against the principles I hold most fundamental to me in this sport.   This is massively important to me.

Finally, some comments for others:

  • If there is anything to be gained from this experience, I would hope that I raise people’s awareness to specific ingredients in certain supplements. Whether you’re taking them for the first time, or have been doing so for years like myself, there seems to be a growing number of new supplements on the market, and I encourage you all to be vigilant about what you are taking so that you do not end up going through the same thing as me, or worse, doing some serious harm to your health.
Sample Findings Page 1
Analytical Findings from UKBFF Nationals – Page 1
Sample Findings Page 2
Analytical Findings from UKBFF Nationals – Page 2

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this.  I deeply appreciate the comments, support and good wishes all of my loyal fans, friends and others who have followed me over the years.  Your strength keeps me strong.


Rob Riches