The viral video of high school police officer Ben Fields yanking a 16-year-old girl out of her seat and dragging her across a classroom at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina consumed the news cycle last week, further fueling an ongoing national conversation on race, police conduct, and what constitutes appropriate force. But no matter where you stand on the larger issues, the most pressing question at the bottom of it all was: What triggered Deputy Fields' violent actions?
Now we know. Those cagey investigators at syndicated newsmagazine "Inside Edition" have the scoop: creatine.
A Harmless Powder Made Me Do It
That's right—creatine. The exhaustively studied amino-acid derivative that has become one of the most commonly used sports supplements of the last 20 years. A supplement so safe and versatile that it's being widely studied as a potential treatment for everything from diabetes to strokes and traumatic brain injury. The tasteless white powder that research indicates can do everything from boost brain power to help counteract the effects of aging. Hundreds of thousands of athletes of all types—team sports, strength, and endurance—take creatine, because science shows it offers an unparalleled combination of effectiveness and safety.
Safe, that is, except for that one time it turned a cop into an enraged maniac.
Not convinced? Let's go to the videotape from the October 30 broadcast of "Inside Edition" as correspondent Steven Fabian treats us to scenes of Fields, red faced, veins bulging, hoisting impressive weights in a gym. After listing the powerlifting accomplishments of Officer Swole, Fabian drops his bombshell: Fields admitted to using creatine in a deposition from an earlier case involving a complaint against the officer.
Could Bodybuilding Supplements Have Triggered Cop's Classroom Rage?
Don't worry, skeptics, Fabian has the goods: "Some users claim creatine causes severe mood swings, anger, and aggressive behavior," the correspondent soberly reports. "Some people" say that "some users" don't exist and never have, but we offer no proof of our claim, just like Fabian offered no proof of his. The "some people say" accusation is one of the cheapest journalistic gimmicks in use today and should be retired permanently. But this report wouldn't exist without low journalistic standards, so Fabian finishes with another classic fact-free flourish: "Time will tell if a bodybuilding supplement played a role in the video shocking the nation." Time's up: It didn't.
The Truth About Creatine
A review of the clinical literature will tell you creatine does not cause mood swings or increase aggressiveness. So will Krissy Kendall, PhD, Bodybuilding.com's science editor. She not only knows the creatine literature backward and forward, but also contributed to it as a university researcher on several creatine-focused studies. Her take?
"This 'creatine made me snap' idea gets tossed out there casually every once in a while, but the science simply doesn't back it up," she says. "Not only is creatine known to be safe, but even calling it a 'bodybuilding supplement' is silly. People from all walks of life—athletes and nonathletes alike—take creatine without experiencing any negative side effects. And both the number and diversity of people taking it will only increase over the years to come as we uncover more of its benefits."
As laughable as the "Inside Edition" report is, this type of tabloid sensationalism does real damage to those who sell and use sports supplements responsibly. Our takeaway: Don't listen to talking heads. Ignore the ignorant, and keep doing what your experience and the existing research agree works.