Flash! Kicker Vencill Wins Suit Against Nutrition Company, Awarded Almost $600K

SANTA ANA, Calif. May 13. AFTER a four-week trial and jury deliberations lasting seven-and-a-half hours, a jury in Santa Ana, California awarded swimmer Kicker Vencill $578,635.34 in a civil lawsuit against Connecticut-based supplement company Ultimate Nutrition yesterday.

The jury unanimously found that a multivitamin taken by Vencill, called "Ultimate Nutrition Super Complete," was contaminated with three steroid precursors causing him to test positive for banned substances in an out-of-competition drug test administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on January 21, 2003.

As a result of the positive drug test, Vencill was suspended from competition for two years, and missed the 2003 Pan-American Games, and the 2004 United States Olympic Swimming Trials. Vencill, a member of the Irvine Novaquatics Swim Club, had already made the US Pan American Games squad and was considered a contender for a slot on the US Olympic team on the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Vencill's suspension will end on May 21, 2005. He was represented in the lawsuit by Howard Jacobs, an attorney at Forgey & Hurrell in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Jacobs also represented Mr. Vencill in connection with his positive drug test before USADA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Vencill was satisfied with the verdict, saying that, "For a long time, I was seen as a cheater. I've never cheated, I've never taken any banned substances. I am happy that all 12 jurors agreed with me, and I believe this verdict will go a long way toward clearing my name. I look forward to resuming my swimming career on May 27 at the Speedo Grand Challenge meet in Irvine, California."

Vencill told Swimming World: "I deserve every penny of (the jury's award), though I would much rather have swum for my country at the Pan-Am Games in 2003 and had my shot at making the US Olympic team last year. Through its contaminated product, Ultimate Nutrition took two years out of my life – probably the best two years of my competitive career. I can never have that back."

Howard Jacobs called the verdict a "wake-up call" to the supplement industry: "Supplement companies need to make sure that they have real quality control procedures in place, to prevent this type of contamination. They cannot be allowed to continue to put our Olympic and professional athletes at risk. It is time for Congress to re-examine the lack of regulation of the supplement industry."

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