Driven Sports (DS) Craze - Guide to Rumors, Accusations
LATEST UPDATE: 25 JULY 2013
This hub addresses material already existing on the internet regarding this very popular product with my analysis of the validity of the claims made. The author does not intend to make accusations himself, as he has no evidence beyond what is publicly available to all. By all official indications, the product (as shipped from Driven Sports) is totally legitimate. The point of this hub is to address all of the rumors out there and put them in perspective. I would welcome any feedback in the comments if you have heard something not covered here or if there is additional talk about this product occurring on the 'net.
UPDATE: There is breaking news regarding positive tests of Craze done here in the USA. This page is in chronological order, so the new information is revealed in full at the bottom of the page. I will continue to offer updates as they happen.
If you don't like reading, you can check out this brief summary of the lawsuit.
The First Accusation
In March of 2012, a lawsuit was filed against Driven Sports alleging several things, including unlabeled ingredients in the product as well as amphetamines in the product. This was following lots of speculation about the new ingredient introduced in the product, Dendrobex, since many users had strong reactions to it: positive and negative. According to the site covering all of this best,
1. PEA, a perfectly useful and legal stimulant that is on Craze’s label, is technically an amphetamine analogue. I doubt there will be a legal case to be made if it turns out that the plaintiff is simply anti-PEA.
2. There are no tests offered among the legal documents. It is possible that the plaintiff plans to produce the tests in court, but at this point it would be unfair to simply assume that DS has spiked the product.
3. This is NOT an FDA case. This is a lawsuit, as in seeking MONEY. That doesn’t necessarily make it less legitimate, but there is zero involvement from the FDA at this point and it is simply a man suing Driven Sports and will let other California residents that purchased Craze split the compensation should the lawsuit win.
This led to frantic speculation at websites like Bodybuilding.com and AnabolicMinds.com, but most of those conversations have been deleted. Driven Sports has publicly and consistently refuted the claims and this lawsuit was thrown out. They had this to say in response to that lawsuit:
Driven Sports has dozens of 3rd party independent lab reports documenting every single batch of Craze® ever manufactured. All reports clearly show that there are no amphetamines, nor any other banned or controlled substances in Craze®. Driven Sports demanded to see the lab report that the Newport Trial Group used as the basis for their lawsuit. The eventual lab report submitted by Newport in fact confirmed that Craze® did not contain amphetamines, nor any other banned or controlled substances. This supports Driven Sports’ position that the lawsuit was always without merit.
It seems strange that Newport Trial Group went ahead with the lawsuit with a lab report that proved them false, but those are the facts we have on that situation. This issue was not resolved until February 2013.
Big Names Make Allegations
While most in the know thought the lawsuit seemed fishy, other prominent figures in the dietary supplement industry spoke up as well. Ron Kramer, owner of Thermolife International LLC, posted on his company forum a series of allegations about this product and its owner. The crux of the allegations that pertain to Craze in particular was that he copy/pasted a supposed set of emails where Driven Sports was sourcing a presently non-compliant ingredient that would closely resemble what they claim is in the product in a chemical sense.
Patrick Arnold, perhaps the most famous person in the industry, chimed in as well. Arnold is credited with creating the "the Clear" and "the Cream" of baseball steroid fame. He also brought several prominent, legal ingredients to the supplement industry. While Arnold later retracted some of his comments under threat of legal action, he had claimed that a test he himself conducted on samples of the product contained a substance that was not listed on the label and would not be compliant with FDA rules. Some of those comments can be seen on this thread from AnabolicMinds Forum.
Both Kramer and Arnold have since backed off those claims to differing extents. Driven Sports and its owner, Matt Cahill, have posted clean lab tests of their products to resolve those criticisms.
New Allegations from Ron Kramer
On his forum on an ongoing thread where has discussed this product and the company owner in depth (with many salacious claims about him, some true and others unproven), Ron Kramer AKA "Truth Speaker" posted on May 24, 2013:
It wont be long now until you can add peddling Ethamphetamines to Matt Cahill’s list of accomplishments... hopefully he will be reflecting his accomplishments from a jail cell sooner than later.
No clue what he's referring to, we shall see!
UPDATE: More info on this at the bottom of this page.
Driven Sports Finds Counterfeits
According to Driven Sports, they have spotted counterfeit batches of Craze being distributed in Europe. This announcement was made late in the year of 2012, along with guides to spotting these counterfeits. It is unclear how quickly Driven Sports was able to get these counterfeits off the market. Likewise, it is unknown what is contained in these purportedly counterfeit products. They did post a preliminary list of stores known to have sold the counterfeit versions of their product.
There have not been any updates as to whether customers in Europe should continue to be leery of Craze sold overseas or if the problem has been cleared up. The last official statements on the matter were made in December 2012.
Driven Sports Releases Lab Tests
According to supplement news blogger Anthony Roberts, Driven Sports has released a statement to distributors assuring them that Craze is not spiked. Attached to the statement is a lab report that seems to indicate that there are no amphetamine analogues in the product. Everything looks legitimate, but it is worth noting that the blog is sponsored by Driven Sports.
Craze Banned in Australia? Sweden?
Ron Kramer, who clearly has a personal gripe with the owner of Driven Sports, "broke" the news that Craze has been banned in Australia. He linked to a YouTube video as his source, but it has since been taken down. Based on description, it was an Australian supplement retailer who claims that federal police informed him that Craze had been banned for import because they had found an amphetamine analog in the product. The next day, Patrick Arnold reported on the same story with a bit more analysis on the alleged compound.
This story was first reported around the internet on April 3, 2013 and there have yet to be any updates. At no point has any official source from Australia even mentioned this, so it is dubious information at this point in time.
The Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science tested Craze and says it found chemicals similar to amphetamine. Driven Sports immediately responded that Switzerland was one of the areas affected most by counterfeiting and this was the likely reason for such a test. Patrick Arnold says that the supplement store who sold the tainted products claims they purchased the Craze directly from Driven Sports. This would be damning information, but I do not see it in the translation of the article that he and I are both referencing. It is not clear from his blog whether he is basing that claim on hearsay or not. For now, this seems to just be the counterfeit issue.
A similar situation has unfolded in Norway, where tests found a methamphetamine-like substance. Once again, Driven Sports mentioned the counterfeit problem as the likely culprit.
It does not seem that any progress has been made in finding the counterfeiters. It is also unclear whether there is any such issue in progress in Australia. It must be emphasized that no such issues have occurred in the United States.
SmartPowders will cease sales of Craze
Citing Kramer's lab tests, the supplement retailer SmartPowders has announced via email to its mailing list that it will quit selling Craze after its current stock runs out on July 5th, 2013. This is the first retailer to acknowledge their belief that the product is spiked, at least in the United States. As covered here, there are other examples abroad.
Major Media Outlets Investigating?
Many users on the bodybuilding.com forums have reported being contacted by a USA Today reporter regarding the Craze story. Several users have verified her identity by calling and by getting response from @usatoday.com email address. It is always hard to tell what angle these things will take until they come out, but it is certainly not good news for Driven Sports that this inquiry is happening -- the media tends to pick up on stories of spiked or dangerous supplements, not falsely accused ones.
BREAKING: Ron Kramer releases certified lab tests showing spiked lots of Craze
Ron Kramer, owner of Thermolife and known critic of Craze, sent several batches of Craze to one of the nation's top labs. He has been (in his own crazy, cynical way) reporting on this at his forum, reachable at this link. I will attach one of the tests below.
In this thread is also Patrick Arnold, who had posted his own informal findings in the past. This is different because Ron Kramer never touched these bottles of Craze, if his word holds true. The testing facility has confirmed that these tests did occur and that their findings are legitimate.
What did they find? Something called ethamphetamine, closely related to methamphetamine. It works very similarly, yet will not show up on common tests due to its different structure. This explains why many people could pass drug tests on Craze, yet there were some "false" positives on cheaper drug tests. Any WADA or USADA tests can and have picked up this analog due to their greater sophistication.
The given reason for Driven Sports's clean tests compared to these dirty ones is that this substance must be specifically tested for to show up. It is that rare. This is also setting aside the possibility that Driven Sports could send "clean" batches for testing; it is also worth noting that one of the batches tested by Kramer came out clean, which might explain why some have complained about variability from one tub to another.
There is much yet to happen. Kramer must prove that he followed a proper chain of custody in his tests. Likewise, the FDA will have to be alerted to this problem. This can happen much more slowly than people think. One must also keep in mind that Kramer has long had a vendetta against the owner of Driven Sports as well as Gaspari Nutrition. Gaspari sells a product containing the same ingredient as Craze and was purchased directly from Driven Sports. On the other hand, Patrick Arnold says he will happily admit his error if there is conclusive proof that Kramer's tests are false.
Prominent Retailer Defends Driven Sports
Responding to Kramer/Thermolife's claims, the United Kingdom's top retailer Predator Nutrition released a lengthy statement.
The statement repeats and links to Driven Sports' clean lab tests and contains some nice info about how lab testing works.
More notably, they make some (unverified) claims about other UK distributors and the "open industry secret" that is counterfeit Craze. Predator says the distributor that is believed to be distributing the counterfeit Craze has tried to undercut Predator's business with Driven Sports (relevance is unclear) and also distributes Thermolife in the USA. Most distributors will try to distribute as many brands as possible, so the Thermolife connection seems dubious without more information. You can read some of the other gossipy claims about this group.
The statement further talks about Ron Kramer's checkered past, which is hardly defensible. While he is hardly a model human being, the statement seems to gloss over some of his company's achievements: his patents of amino-bonded nitrates and DAA are nothing to turn one's nose at, as they compose a significant portion of clinically proven ingredients in the industry. With that said, Thermolife has a far from orthodox business plan and while they have a great reputation for quality control, Kramer has a history of bad character himself while waging personal attacks against his enemies.
With more and more contradictory information out there, it is worth noting that almost every key figure involved is a felon. Everything must be taken with a grain of salt.
The statement certainly lends some credibility to Driven Sports' claims of innocence. The key piece of information are some copied and pasted emails, purportedly between Predator and the lab that Kramer used to positively test Craze. The emails would suggest that Kramer did not use a proper chain of custody in the tests, sending samples of Craze from himself to the lab; in court, this is problematic since Kramer could have adulterated the product before sending it in.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that both sides of this story have copied and pasted email conversations to try to make the other side look bad. It is rather difficult to assess the credibility of copied and pasted content as well as things that are gossiped about from people invested in both sides of the argument. The hard evidence remains inconclusive, as there are lab tests showing clean and dirty batches.
Another British Retailer Disputes Predator's Claims
British retailer and competitor to Predator Nutrition, Muscle Finesse has been trying to keep customers abreast of developments in this scandal. Predator, through its close partnership with Driven Sports, has claimed to be the only European retailer selling legitimate (non-counterfeit) Craze.
The owner of Muscle Finesse details discussing this issue with Predator's owner, who first reached out in an apparent attempt to price fix; Muscle Finesse was selling Craze considerably cheaper. Things later moved to Predator's owner leading Muscle Finesse to believe they were selling a counterfeit version of Craze, but then waffling on the point and never providing information on how to distinguish counterfeit products and where they should properly be purchased.
Although we were extremely disappointed with the way that Predator Nutrition handled the situation below, we immediately removed the item from our website once we realised that there could be an outside chance that the item we stocked was counterfeit. However we are now 10 months on and we are still waiting on evidence which proves that the item test purchased from us was not genuine.
We'd like to stress that we spoke to every customer who purchased a DS Craze from us and provided a full refund and a free product of their choice. We did this despite never being presented with any kind of evidence that the product we had been given was not genuine but we were simply not going to take any risk on the matter.
To summarize the timeline at the statement, after asking Muscle Finesse to increase their price of Craze, Predator began making statements about the possibility of fake Craze being sold on the internet at a "leading UK retailer." A day later, Muscle Finesse receives an email from Predator's owner saying that Driven Sports would like MF to stop selling Craze, with no reason or other verification given.
Though Predator's owner made no mention of this to MF, MF suspected they were being implicated in the "fake Craze" scandal. They made a test purchase from a distributor of Predator's to compare the tubs they are selling to the ones others are selling. They were unable to detect a difference. MF thought it best to directly ask Predator about what was going on and notified them that they were testing all bottles involved to see if they could find any differences in the laboratory. Predator's response was less than helpful, gently asserting that MF had been uncooperative.
Predator later tells MF that their public postings about fake Craze were not in reference to MF, but that Predator was concerned about MF's "unapproved channels" for purchasing Craze. MF claims to be confused by this as they purchased the Craze from a reliable distributor that they have used previously. MF then made a test purchase directly from Predator and finally found some differences in the appearances of the tubs; however, they have not been able to make any headway with Predator or DS as to how to interpret these differences.
They later realized that Predator had made a test purchase from them and realized that Predator's press releases were indeed referring to MF. Going many months without any answers, MF concludes:
We can only assume that the goal here was to undermine our company while also securing Predator Nutrition’ sales as opposed to acting in the consumers interest.
After the recent releases of lab tests from Ron Kramer, MF updated with the following:
We've always been extremely transparent and honest with all of you and that is why this page has been updated to let you know that although the companies mentioned within this page have said the small quantity of stock that we had of Craze was counterfeit - we simply don't know whether this is or is not the case.
We've been made aware from various other wholesalers and retailers from around the world that they have already stopped stocking/selling Craze so we'll have to wait and see what unfolds with the product in the future.
One thing for sure is that we now always look in to not only every brand that we stock but also the people behind them.
The final comment appears to be a reference to Matt Cahill, the owner of Driven Sports who was once imprisoned for selling a controlled substance over the internet, which led to the death of a young woman.
There is much more hearsay here, though it certainly puts a dent in Predator's original claims as a neutral, outside source (though it was obvious that Predator had a personal beef with Ron Kramer, owner of Thermolife). It seems that Driven Sports and Predator Nutrition have a very close relationship and if MF is to be believed, Driven Sports allowed Predator to ask as courier for company communications between DS and MF. It would not be unreasonable to infer that DS has deliberately been unhelpful (or worse) in order to help Predator dominate the market for that particular product, though it is hard to say for sure.
Prominent Bodybuilder Blames Craze for Positive Test
Rob Riches, a well-known professional bodybuilder, recently tested positive on a WADA drug test for a banned stimulant. He believes, according to his blog, that this stimulant was an unlisted component of Driven Sports Craze. He has cited the controversy that is covered on this page as what tipped him off to the likelihood that this was the culprit.
While he is known to be a man of integrity and has passed many drug tests, he does not have the more substantive evidence offered by the likes of Ron Kramer. It is up to the individual to assess the veracity of his claims.
The substance he claims to have tested positive for, N,alpha-diethyl-benzeneethanamine, is on its face different than what Kramer has tested for. However, I am no chemist so I can't currently comment on whether this is a different nomenclature for the same or a similar substance.
Marc Lobliner, CEO of Tiger Fitness, Pulls Craze from Shelves
USA Today Releases Front Page Story Covering Craze, Driven Sports' Matt Cahill
This front page article is the most thorough coverage to date of Matt Cahill's past (which I've not delved into on this page, so it is worth a look) and gives mainstream credence to the story being covered here. While much of the Craze-related information is rehashed, of interest is the adverse event report USA Today obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request - a 15 year old boy was sent to the ER after taking Craze and that boy later tested positive for amphetamine. This is huge news as it will bring this story to a brand new audience. Please share this page if people are looking for more information.
Have you used Craze? Did you like it?
While it is very fun to speculate, there just is not any good evidence that shows that Driven Sports is up to no good. When buying from reputable retailers, it seems that there should be no risk of consuming illegal or unlisted ingredients. You should know that the FDA does not automatically test supplements to make sure they meet the claims they make on the label. However, it is unlikely that this much speculation has occurred about this product without someone with judicial power having tested it. American customers should feel at ease in buying and using this product. European customers should contact Driven Sports to find out which retailers are reputable and will not be selling counterfeit products.
Whether it works is a different story. This will be user dependent like all dietary supplements and is not what this Hub is about.
UPDATE: In light of recent events, it is necessary to exercise far more skepticism. Please evaluate for yourself.