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Former contestants on NBC’s hit game show “The Biggest Loser” have claimed they were given drugs to lose weight and keep it from coming back.
A source close to the show told the New York Post that the show is “corrupt” and plied contestants with Adderall and “yellow jackets,” a pill containing FDA banned ephedra.
“It’s my biggest nightmare,” Lezlye Donahue told the Post, “and it’s with me to this day.”
“I read that [NIH] study, and there’s so much more that people don’t know,” she said. “There are nurses sitting there [filling people] with IV packs. I took away an eating disorder. I have nightmares about it.”
The report came after another report attempted to show why the majority of contestants gain their weight back, the Post reported.
The former contestants who reached out to the Post said they were encouraged to lie about how much weight they were losing, starve themselves and take the drugs.
The study, that was federally funded and conducted by Dr. Kevin Hall, was published two weeks ago and said that genetic predispositions, changing metabolic rates and hormone levels were responsible for the weight gain.
But the former contestants said a major part of the reason was missing.
“People were passing out in (the show’s doctor) Dr. H’s office at the finale weigh-in,” Season 2’s Suzanne Mendonca told the Post. “On my season, five people had to be rushed to the hospital. He knew exactly what we were doing and never tried to stop it.”
Joelle Gwynn, who was on 2008’s “Couples” season, explained how drugs were provided to her.
“Bob Harper was my trainer,” she said. “He goes away and his assistant comes in. He’s got this brown paper bag that’s bundled up. He says, ‘Take this drug, it’ll really help you.’ It was yellow and black. I was like, ‘What the f**k is this?’ ”
“I felt jittery and hyper,” she said of the one time she took the pill. “I went and told the sports medicine guy. The next day, Dr. H gave us some lame explanation of why they got added to our regimen and that it was up to us to take them . . . People chastise Bill Cosby for allegedly offering meds to women, but it’s acceptable to do to fat people to make them lose weight. I feel like we got raped, too.”
Dr. Rob Huizenga (Dr. H) denied the allegations in a statement sent to the Post.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight-loss drugs. Urine drug screens and the evaluation of serial weights are repeatedly used to flush out possible illicit use.”
He added that the show’s contestants “rarely” get to the point of fainting or even dizziness.
“Furthermore, I educate contestants that proper caloric intake is essential to fat loss both over the short and long-term,” he wrote.
Show producers also denied the claims.
“The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount,” they said in a statement. “We prohibit the use of any illegal substances, in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety.”
Contestants say the damage done to their lives is far-reaching.
“‘The Biggest Loser’ doesn’t save lives,” Mendonca told the Post. “It ruins lives. Mentally, emotionally, financially — you come back a different person. Half the people from my season have gotten divorced. The ripple effect isn’t just weeks or months. It’s years.”
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