Now the FDA is calling in the big guns at the Justice Department, which last week confirmed that it has launched a criminal investigation of Metabolife, a leading seller of remedies containing ephedra. At issue is whether the company, based in San Diego, lied about ephedra's safety in 1998 when it said Metabolife had never been notified of "any serious health event" caused by its products. A company spokesperson maintains that no false statements were made and that ephedra is safe when used according to directions.
Meanwhile, a growing number of athletic groups have decided they can't wait for a scientific resolution to the controversy. Ephedra has been banned by the NFL, the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee. Predictably, Major League Baseball has taken no action yet.