Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators confirmed Tuesday that they are looking into allegations of alleged illegal drug use on the set of NBC’s The Biggest Loser.
An investigation began earlier this month 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 Biggest Loser,” according to a sheriff’s release. “Based on the information contained in the news report, Malibu/Lost Hills Station personnel are conducting an inquiry regarding the unsubstantiated allegations.”
Producers from the show told PEOPLE that the allegations are “without merit and false.”
“According to the Sheriff’s Department, they are ‘conducting an inquiry regarding unsubstantiated allegations,'” according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “We believe these allegations are without merit and false. The safety and wellbeing of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount. 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.”
Last week, some former contestants told the New York Post that they were provided drugs to help them lose weight. According to the Post, the show’s trainer Bob Harper and one of his assistants allegedly supplied contestants with Adderall and pills that contain ephedra extract, which was banned by the FDA in 2004.
“Bob Harper was my trainer,” 2008 contestant Joelle Gwynn told the Post. “He goes away and his assistant comes in. 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 is this?'”
“I felt jittery and hyper,” she alleged.
Harper adamantly denied the allegations.
“These allegations are absolutely false and are in direct conflict with my lifelong devotion to health and fitness,” he told PEOPLE. “Safety is paramount in my training regimen and, while demanding, my approach has always focused on the overall well-being of contestants as they lose significant weight and educate themselves, for the first time, on living a healthy lifestyle.”
Gwynn claimed she went to the “sports medicine guy” and the next day, the show’s resident doctor, Robert Huizenga, “gave us some lame explanation of why they got added to our regimen and that it was up to us to take them … People chastise Bill Cosby for allegedly offering meds to women, but it’s acceptable to do to fat people to make them lose weight. I feel like we got raped, too.”
Huizenga denied the former contestants’ claims to the Post saying, “Nothing could be further from the truth. 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.”