During a June meeting of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus on Capitol Hill, two sports professionals highlighted the importance of dietary supplements for athletes and the danger of illegal steroid use in teen athletes. The luncheon briefing marked the 10th "meeting of the minds" between Congress and four supplement industry trade associations since 2008.

The topic comes at an appropriate time for the burgeoning sports supplements industry. The Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss category posted $2 billion in new sales in 2010, and grew 9 percent to reach $22.7 billion, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Over the past 13 years, the category has produced an impressive compound annual growth rate of 10.2 percent.

Speaking at the luncheon briefing were Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, a former Chicago Bears linebacker, and Dave Ellis, a sports dietician and anti-doping chair/president for the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association. The two discussed the need for clear education about which dietary supplements are "permissible" and safe for athletes.

In attendance were the American Herbal Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association and the United Natural Products Alliance. The associations, which jointly put on the Dietary Supplement Caucus event, share concerns that athletes may be unable to discern legitimate dietary supplements from illegally marketed supplements that contain steroids or drugs.