Law enforcement officers are looking into reports of possible drug use at The Biggest Loser‘s King Gillette Ranch in California after allegations emerged of weight-loss pill use on the set of the long-running show, Lt. James Royal of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to Us Weekly on Tuesday, May 31.
“We are conducting an inquiry into some of the allegations of wrongdoing that occurred some time in the past,” he tells Us.
Royal also told CBS Los Angeles that an investigation got underway earlier in May after “a journalist advised Malibu/Lost Hills station personnel of a news report regarding unsubstantiated allegations of illegal narcotics use in the past on the set of the television reality show.”
The move follows a report in last month’s New York Post in which season 2 contestant Suzanne Mendonca claimed contestants were encouraged to take drugs or throw up in order to shed weight.
“People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom,” she told the outlet. “They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day. [Trainer] Bob Harper tells people to throw up: ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.'”
The Biggest Loser producers deny the allegations. “According to the Sheriff’s Department, they are conducting ‘an inquiry regarding unsubstantiated allegations.’ We believe these allegations are without merit and false,” producers of the hit NBC show tell Us is in a statement.
“The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount,” the statement continued. “Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight-loss drugs. 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.”
Harper also denied the claims in a statement to Us following the New York Post‘s story. “These allegations are absolutely false and are also in direct conflict with my lifelong devotion to health and fitness,” he said. “Safety is paramount in my training regimen.”
Though several past contestants have been critical of the popular reality competition, some former participants have defended the show and its long-time trainer.
“I have known Bob Harper for five years … I can 100 percent say that I probably know him better than ANY contestant to ever walk on that ranch & he’s never been about a pill or a quick fix…EVER,” season 11 champ Olivia Ward wrote on Facebook May 23. “He is about integrity and follow through,” she wrote on her Facebook page on Monday, May 23.
“I was NEVER asked to take any weight loss drugs. My weight loss has come from … hard work, dedication,” season 17’s Jacky Kmet posted on Facebook May 22. “I feel blessed that I was a contestant on season 17 of the Biggest Loser!”