Former Biggest Loser Contestants Allege Show Provided Them With Ephedra, Left Them With Eating Disorders

For 17 seasons, NBC’s The Biggest Loser has proven that anyone can lose weight with a strict diet, lots of exercise, access to world-class trainers and training facilities, a few months away from your job and family, the incentive of a huge cash reward, and the knowledge that millions of TV viewers are scrutinizing your every move. According to some former contestants, it also involved some show-provided pills.

Joelle Gwynn, who appeared on the show in 2008, tells the NY Post that trainer Bob Harper and his assistant tried to convince her to try some unknown pills.

“[Harper] goes away and his assistant comes in,” says Gwynn. “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?’”

An unnamed source tells the Post that Harper and an assistant supplied staff with Adderall and ephedra pills dubbed “yellow jackets” for their yellow and black coloring.

Gwynn says she only took a single pill because it made her feel “jittery and hyper.”

Of greater concern is her allegation that when she alerted the show’s physician, Dr. Rob Huizenga, about the pills he “gave us some lame explanation of why they got added to our regimen and that it was up to us to take them.”

Suzanne Mendonca, a contestant on Season 2 of the show, told the Post that “People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom.”

She claims she vomited every day, and that Harper allegedly encouraged this sort of bulimic behavior.

At her finale, where all the contestants are expected to weigh in and show off their huge losses, Mendonca claims that other contestants were passing out in Dr. Huizenga’s office.

“On my season, five people had to be rushed to the hospital,” she alleges. “He knew exactly what we were doing and never tried to stop it.”

For his part, Huizenga denies all the claims made in the Post story.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” reads a statement from the doctor. “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.”

Huizenga also takes issue with claims that contestants were consuming only half the calories they claimed, and doing so under the direction of show staffers. One former contestant says her daily diet consisted of only seven asparagus sticks and 3 ounces of turkey.

“I educate contestants that proper caloric intake is essential to fat loss both over the short and long term,” said the doctor.

Harper did not reply to the Post’s request for comment, but the producers told the paper that “The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount… 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.”