Wrestling Practices and Creatine Monohydrate: A Deadly Combination?
On December 9th, 1997 Michigan University wrestler, Jeff Reese, attempted to cut 12 lbs in one day. His goal was to wrestle at the 150 lb weight class for the Wolverines in the team's match against Michigan State. Reese died trying to reach his goal.
Cutting weight is a common practice in the sport of wrestling. In fact, wrestlers have been shedding pounds to qualify for lower weight classes since the NCAA made wrestling a sport in 1928. Prior to any match, disciplined wrestlers will subject themselves to grueling workouts in rubber suits and overheated rooms. The wrestlers try to sweat the weight off, risking severe dehydration all for the sake of winning. Unfortunately, 21-year-old Jeff Reese, and two other wrestlers, died before he reached the wrestling mat. Doctors reported that Reese died from a heart malfunction and kidney failure (Younge, 1998).
In a news report by The Minnesota Daily, Dr. David Wang said, "the deaths most likely were a result of the weight-cutting process" (Younge, 1998). Assistant Coach for the Gophers, Marty Morgan, defends the medically unpopular methods for cutting weight saying, "the medical world wants this [the deaths] to be wrestling related, and the way we cut weight, because for years they've wanted to ban this, and outlaw it and change it" (Younge, 1998). Although many plead for research and scientific data on the matter, Dr. Wang believes the medically community will not be the one to furnish the information (Younge, 1998). The human subjects committee would never allow such dangerous practices, such as exercising in a sauna with a rubber suit on, to be implemented for scientific study (Younge, 1998). So the inhumane, self-deprivation practices continue to go unstudied.
In the same report by The Minnesota Daily, Younge (1998) notes that for 70 years of wrestling history not a single death was recorded as a result of shedding weight, at least until the end of 1997. The sudden deaths of three wrestlers calls into question if something else is causing the deaths. Dr. Wang suspects creatine supplementation might be the culprit. Research studies have shown that the dietary supplement does improve power and strength, apparently with no known side effects. Creatine helps the muscles to retain water. For wrestlers using the supplement, "creatine works as an opposing force" when the wrestler tries to shed weight, causing problems in the body's cooling system (Younge, 1998). Although no direct connections have been made, Jeff Reese was reported as using creatine when he died trying to make weight (Younge, 1998). My investigative report is aimed at uncovering the potential dangers of combining creatine supplementation with the excessive weight loss practices used by competitive wrestlers.
For Younge's full report, titled "Weighing In," go to: http://www.mndaily.com/daily/1998/02/09/news/ then scroll down and click...