False claims spread like wildfire in Marine Corps

8 Jun 2011 | Pfc. Nik S. Phongsisattanak

"Dimethylamylamine," a drug found in the 2010 World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited substances list was said to be an ingredient contained in Jack3d, a supplement used to improve athletic performance and body building.

News of the supplement containing an illegal drug was passed by commands aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and multiple Marine Corps installations across the country, recently. A Marine from MCB Camp Pendleton said he got the information from the U.S. Coast Guard, and told a friend of his. Within a few days the majority of the Marine Corps was alerted.

Commands held briefs immediately with concern for the number of Marines and sailors using the product, and many had questions to answer.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard that Jack3d contained (dimethylamylamine)," said Cpl. Michael So, an administrative clerk with Installation Personnel Administration Center, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. "I know so many Marines who use it. I've used it for about two years and I've never failed a urinalysis."

Jack3d can be found in stores on many military bases, to include MCB Camp Lejeune. Establishments carrying the product have been selling it for years, making claims of it containing the illegal drug questionable.

The word spread was partially true. The Department of Defense currently employs a three-test system to report a positive result for a urinalysis.

The first tests done are two immunoassays tests, a test used to detect the presence or quantity of a substance, and the final is a confirmatory test, which is a second analytical procedure used to identify the presence of a specific drug using a different technique and chemical principle in order to ensure reliability.

For the first tests, results may indicate a positive for amphetamines, however, the confirmatory test done by the Navy Drug Screening Lab negates the "false positive" that comes up from using Jack3d.

"When it comes to questions in regards to drug pops, the (substance abuse control officers) should be the only ones who really have to go to the Health Promotion Branch to figure things out," said Staff Sgt. Ken Imamura, the SACO with Headquarters and Support Battalion. "All it takes is one person to freak out over something, without verifying the facts, for rumors to spread. It went Marine Corps wide, and it was a big problem because everyone was passing word but no one had the official word."

Staff Sgt. Jose Yap, an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune, noticed that he didn't receive an e-mail with official word from the SACO about the claims, so he contacted Imamura to clarify if rumors were true.

"Any Marine that gets word of anything of this nature, and isn't informed from SACO, Health Promotions Branch, Naval Drug Labs Florida or San Diego, should be confirming the information," said Imamura.

When Imamura caught wind of the news, he immediately called for a rebuttal, so he verified the facts with Rollin Winston, drug demand reduction coordinator with Health Promotion Branch, Marine Corps Community Services, who confirmed that claims of the supplement were bogus. Imamura then sent e-mails to commands clarifying that Jack3d will not test positive on the urinalysis.

An attorney from Brewer Law Group, representing the makers of Jack3d, contacted the Office of Counsel for the Commandant at the Pentagon, June 2, to address the rumors, which he also assured were false.

"As a general guide, a product is not a concern from a urinalysis perspective when it is sold by a licensed vendor in the (United States)," said Winston. "Jack3d was sold, among others, through the largest online retailer in the U.S. It would be illogical for an established business to risk their business license and potential for federal prosecution selling a product that contained a federally-controlled substance, which Jack3d does not."

Now that the facts have been set straight, service members don't have to worry about losing their career over a supplement that some purchased on base.

"Even though the rumor was false, it was spread fast and a lot of concerned Marines were able to tell each other to stop using the product," said So. "It's better to be safe than sorry."