Warning label

The label on the back of the C4 Extreme package states, "Not intended for use by persons under age 18."

Ten Menomonie High School (MHS) multi-sport athletes discovered that a pre-workout energy drink they consumed this week will cost them the first three games of the WIAA football season.

The drink, called Cellucor C4 Extreme, contains a banned substance called Synephrine HCL, a potent adrenergic stimulator. According to bodybuilding.com, Synephrine HCL, “augments energy levels and ATP synthesis” and is structurally similar to Ephedra. It goes on to say, “The compound enhances adrenaline stimulation and promotes weight loss by amplifying fat burning, metabolism, and thermogenesis.”

MHS Activities Director Bart Boettcher said while Synephrine HCL is not specifically listed as a banned substance under the school’s code, it is listed by the WIAA and falls under the category of performance enhancing drugs and carries the same punishments as alcohol or tobacco consumption.

“It’s the same exact punishment,” said Boettcher, who noted that due to an honor clause (for turning themselves in) the punishment was reduced from a 50 percent ban to three games.

“I had a tip from the WIAA to investigate,” said Boettcher. “I went right down to the weight room and met with (Head Football) Coach (Joe) LaBuda, and we asked, and they said ‘Yeah’ and even showed us. Our kids didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. … They said they were told that this was the best stuff by a GNC employee.”

LaBuda said after the athletes used the product, they bragged about it on Twitter and someone reported it to the WIAA. He added that not only is Synephrine banned by the WIAA, but also by the NCAA.

“They were unaware that this substance was on the WIAA banned substance list, but the product states on the label not to be consumed by anyone under the age of 18,” said LaBuda. “None of these students were 18.”

“I feel for them,” Boettcher said, but added, “When it happens, we’re going to enforce the code. There’s no hiding or getting around it.”

All 10 players are junior and seniors on the football team. Since football will be the first athletic season after receiving the suspension, they will not permitted to play against Merrill, Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire Memorial.

While the situation is an unfortunate one for all involved, Boettcher said, “The health and safety of the athletes is the most important thing in the world. … Ignorance is not an excuse.”

WIAA’s response

Wade Labecki, deputy director of the WIAA, said, “Many of the products available in your local store have a variety of ingredients and some of the ingredients are stimulants. Supplement ingredient lists can be very difficult to decipher as problematic ingredients can have multiple name variations. There are common names (synonyms) that are listed in dietary supplements for the same stimulant.  It’s very possible that athletes are not aware of what’s actually in the product they’re taking and athletes should be careful with any product.”

Labecki added the ban on performance enhancers is not just due to “competitive advantages”, but for the “overall health of young, developing, adolescent children. … The ingredient in the product can cause kidney damage. A concern with this product is the withdrawal affect once a user has stopped taking the product.”

The withdrawal symptoms of DMAA (Synephrine) include mood changes, depression and anger.

“Our concern is neither the athletes, their parents, or school personnel would be aware of the symptoms to watch for,” said Labecki.

He added that risks associated with the drug include vasoconstriction (blood vessel narrowing), elevated heart rate, increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, aneurysm, lethal exhaustion, and even impotence. Those risks escalate if the drug is combined with other stimulants like caffeine, and then again increase when the body is under extreme load associated with exercise or competitive sport – and again if exposed to heat or dehydration.

On the plus side

LaBuda said the big positive that came out of the incident is that they were able to cut off the usage right away and “the students did not have any prolonged use of this product.”

“When we were first made aware of this and the students were questioned, they all stepped forward and were accountable for their actions,” said LaBuda. “It’s a lot harder to be a kid today than when we grew up. ... (It’s) also (a) tough era to be a parent. … Students need to be careful where they get their source of information of what is safe and what is not, and also how they use the internet.”

Menomonie District Administrator Chris Stratton commended both Boettcher and LaBuda for how they handled the investigation.


(13) comments


Stunning article! I wish the best for these boys and the team for the coming season.


Good thing they were not drinking Kool Aid there is tons of sugar in that stuff and I have watched my kid on it hitting warp speeds. Geeeze


[quote]notsmart said: "I know the person that alerted the WIAA and the school. The person wouldn't tell me everything, but I was told the "investigation" has been going on for a while.

It seems that Notsmart maybe part of a team that would do anything to trip these kids up? humm I wonder if there could be a rival. I agree that keeping kids safe is one thing but there seems to be a lot of motive here to me, just judging by notsmart comments in the past


The kids came forward and were honest, why can't the person who alerted not only the WIAA but send a mass email to every media outlet in the state step up and say who you are. You are very proud of this, then stand up and be recognized. The boys were wrong, this could have been deadly, so you may be seen as a hero. Just tell us who you are already. Just a side note, everyone one of these kids have good grades, a hard workers and generally would go out of their way to help anyone.


One other note, this investigation was not going on for a while. THis all transpired within 24 hours. The reciepts from GNC will show this


I am a Menomonie football player. I would like to apologize to the community and the team for our actions. We take responsibility as it did happen and were gonna have to move on and play shorthanded the first 3 games. We should have not taken C4 as it has a banned stimulant that is also banned at the pro and college level. We are devastated, but we will serve our suspensions and be anxious to be back on the field when we play River Falls.


I always thought it was bad enough when school staff placed athletes on pedestals, but after reading some of the comments it seems it might due to pressure from the community. Trying to call out and forward the blame to the person who turned them in? Comparing the use of a banned substance to kool-aid? The only post that shows any moral is from a player themself. I understand not knowing it was a banned substance, but at least he seems to be taking the (justified) punishment like a man.

Fox Valley Blugold

"Be Fair" & "Utley" come up a bit short on the facts. The boys exposed themselves by bragging on facebook & twitter about their purchase & use of the C-4 supplement. Their arrogance & naivete' got them in trouble. If you are knowingly doing something you shouldn't be (trust me, they knew what they were doing, despite what some of the media outlets are reporting), the last thing you want to do is publicly brag about it. This was going on for more than 24 hrs prior to being reported to the WIAA


I think we should look at the bigger picture. Do you think GNC sold this product only to Menomonie players? They probably have sold this to kids in Eau Claire, Chippeawa and other areas. This product is only to be sold to people with appropriate ID - it is the law! Maybe your child, relative or friend has also been sold this product or has taken it. The players, coach and school have been honest - what would you do if you found your child taking this product? I hope you would do the same.


@ Menomoniefootballplayer... Thank you for taking responsibility for your actions. Very well said. I am certain these (and any other athletes) will use more caution in the future. And I certainly hope GNC and others who provide "supplements" will be more aware of the products they offer and the restrictions on selling those products to minors.


I applaud the school officials for taking responsible actions, and the students for taking responsibility themselves. We know football is king at Menomonie so I know it had to be disppointing. I hope this influences athletic directors and coaches in all schools to emphasize the dangers of sports drinks. All parties handled this very well.


I meant energy drinks, not sports drinks.


Wanted to bring up a mistake in this article----------- "The withdrawal symptoms of DMAA (Synephrine) include mood changes, depression and anger." -------------- DMAA is NOT synephrine, its 1,3-dimethylamylamine.. just to clarify

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