O's lead cheers as New York bans ephedra

Flanagan is at ceremony

herb tied to Bechler death

November 04, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

New York yesterday became the second state to ban over-the-counter sales of ephedra, the herbal supplement that has been linked to the death of Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler.

Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan was in New York City to see Gov. George E. Pataki sign the bill into law. From now on, each sale of the supplement in that state will be subject to a $500 fine.

Illinois was the first state to pass such a measure, and Flanagan said he hopes Maryland and other states will soon follow suit.

Bechler collapsed on an Orioles practice field Feb. 16, and died of heatstroke the following morning at age 23.

The Broward County (Fla.) medical examiner autopsy pointed to Bechler's use of Xenadrine RFA-1, an over-the-counter supplement that contains ephedra, as one of the causes of his death.

"By signing this law, we take a significant step toward ensuring that the tragic death of Steve Bechler is never repeated," Pataki said in a press release.

"Across the nation, dietary supplements containing ephedra have been implicated in serious health problems, yet few consumers are aware of the danger."

Flanagan and his wife, Alex, have done extensive research into ephedra since Bechler died.

"They thanked Alex for her homework and gave me a copy [of the new law]," Flanagan said. "The only question is why hasn't the state of Maryland done this? Why hasn't Oregon, the state where [Bechler] lived? Why hasn't Florida, the state where he died?"

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