Researchers have detected unsafe levels of a drug analog in a popular workout supplement.stoermchen/Flickr

Researchers have detected unsafe levels of a drug analog in a popular workout supplement.

The pre-workout powder called Craze - manufactured by a New-York based company Driven Sports, Inc. - is drawing controversy, after a team of American scientists revealed that it contained alarming levels of a compound similar to methamphetamine, a drug that is widely known to cause severe damages to human health.

"In recent years banned and untested drugs have been found in hundreds of dietary supplements. We began our study of Craze after several athletes failed urine drug tests because of a new methamphetamine analog," lead author Dr. Pieter Cohen, from the Harvard Medical School, in the US, said in a news release.

Cohen and colleagues in the US, used ultra-high performance liquid chromatography to test three samples of the sports supplement and confirmed the presence of a compound N,α- DEPEA,  that holds structural similarities to a banned methamphetamine substance. "We identified a potentially dangerous designer drug in three separate samples of this widely available dietary supplement," Cohen, said. "The tests revealed quantities of N,?-DEPEA of over 20mg per serving, which strongly suggests that this is not an accidental contamination from the manufacturing process."

Apart from that, the company had listed N,N-diethyl-phenylethylamine (N,N-DEPEA) in their products' contents, showing its origin from the endangered dendrobium orchids. The researchers said that presence of such a compound in orchids was yet to be proved scientifically. "The phenylethylamine we identified in Craze, N,alpha-DEPEA, is not listed on the labeling and it has not been previously identified as a derivative of dendrobium orchids," said Cohen. They also found many organic compounds known as phenylethylamines, chemicals found both in chocolates and illegal drugs, listed in the contents.

The report has been published in the Drug Testing and Analysis.

While responding, the company refuted the allegations that Craze contained any harmful substances. A statement appeared on the company's website said that studies conducted by the company had shown that "Craze does not contain amphetamines or controlled substances," and continued that it had "suspended the production and sale of Craze several months ago while it investigated the reports in the media regarding the safety of Craze.", a leading American online retailer of sports supplements and nutritional products, claims the product is safe for use. " has conducted product, blood and urine tests on Craze numerous times and all tested negative for amphetamines. You are free to share the fact that we've tested and all results have been negative," a statement appeared on the website, said. "We remain committed to providing products that are legal and safe and have no evidence that Craze is any different."

The company has temporarily suspended sales of the supplement and is awaiting the results of the tests they recently conducted on the product.