MusclePharm LAWSUIT – Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass Spiked?


On Wednesday, January 28th, 2015, a class action complaint was filed against MusclePharm for alleged deceptive label claims in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Mass weight gainer product.

Update – Feb 4, 2015 – We now have Exhibit A, which shows the plaintiff’s lab tests. They are discussed below.

This comes after a lull in the recent rash of lawsuits regarding the ongoing amino acid protein spiking scandal, and is quite easily the biggest case yet.

This lawsuit was filed in the State of California, and was done so by a different set of law firms than the previous class action suits filed above.

Our social media fans can see the publicly filed documents below, which now include the lab tests in question:

What the complaint filed says

The complaint begins very much like the others, defining what “protein spiking” / “nitrogen spiking” / “amino spiking” is, referencing GNC, raw materials costs, etc.

Then the juicy stuff:

  • The complaint alleges that the defendant (MusclePharm) makes a specific false claim regarding the source of protein in the Product (Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Mass) by stating, “MUSCLE PLASMA PROTEIN TECHNOLOGY: 40g of a potent blend of hydrolyzed beef protein and lactoferrin protein, citing the picture below:
    MusclePharm Lawsuit Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass

    One of the label images as shown from the complaint that is allegedly deceptive. The key point is 40G OF A POTENT BLEND OF HYDROLYZED BEEF PROTEIN AND LACTOFERRIN PROTEIN*, which the alleged lab tests show not to be the case

    They also allege that the defendant further misleads consumers with its Muscle Plasma Protein Mix” under the Supplement Facts panel, which discloses 40 grams of protein per serving, citing the image shown below:

    Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass Lawsuit

    The supplement facts section, as shown in the class action complaint’s PDF

    They then claim that the the total protein count of 40 grams per serving is not just hydrolyzed beef protein and lactoferrin protein, but also includes “the non-amino acid, non-protein compound creatine monohydrate and the free-form amino acids, l-glycine, leucine, iso-leucine and valine.”

  • Then the big blow:

    The lawsuit alleges that there are 19.4 grams of bounded protein.

    They reference Exhibit A, which we unfortunately do not have.

    Exhibit A Lab Results

    • A 95g serving size (2 scoops worth) was sampled, which is the serving size on the label.
    • 19.4039g of bound amino acids were found. (This is what would come from the actual beef protein and perhaps the lactoferrin. It may also count the nitrate-bounded BCAAs, but we need to confirm that.)

      Recall that the label above states 40G OF A POTENT BLEND OF HYDROLYZED BEEF PROTEIN AND LACTOFERRIN PROTEIN and if this lab test is 100% valid, that label claim is simply false — by over 2x.

    • 266mg free-form leucine was found.

      This is actually unexpected, since the leucine is supposed to be bonded to nitrate per the label (it is listed as “BCAA nitrates”), so we would think that we’d only find more “bound” leucine. We will see if we can confirm this.

    • There was no free-form valine found. This is listed as BRL, which stands for “Below Reporting Limit”.

      This is to be expected, since it is part of the “BCAA Nitrates”, and we’d expect it to be “bound”, not free form.

    • There was no free form isoleucine found within reporting limits.

      Again, this could be expected due to the nitrate bond. We will have to confirm how nitrate bonds affect these tests.

    • 6.110g free-form glycine was found. This is on the label.
    • The lab was performed by ChromaDex, the most reputable name in the testing business.
    • We don’t have the full story here.

      There is no data on creatine, nor is there data on total nitrogen content. This is important, and is discussed below.

  • The complaint also brings Twitter into the fold, citing this Twitter screenshot shown below:
    MusclePharm Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass Lawsuit

    The Twitter correspondence as taken from the complaint

    At the time of posting, the Tweet is still live. You can see it below:

  • This was filed by different lawyers than previous suits. The plaintiff, Tucker Durnford, is represented by Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski LLP in California, as well as Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie PLLC in Washington State.


As always, we need to remind you that these are nothing but allegations.

We are missing the following CRUCIAL pieces of information:

  1. Exhibit A, which would show the exact data, what lab it was tested at, and at what date
  2. A chain of custody has NEVER been shown in ANY of the alleged complaints.

    We have never once seen proof that the products were not potentially tampered with from the point of manufacturing to the testing lab.

Until there is due process, nobody is guilty.

MusclePharm has “responded” by posting all protein tests at the MPSSI

Update: April 17, 2015: MusclePharm is now posting their “3rd party” protein tests to the MPSSI (MusclePharm Sports Science Institute), and these tests include Iron Whey and Iron Mass – one test from each batch.

You can read the post discussed above. Anyone can now go to the site, enter the batch/lot numbers, and see how the protein performed from their exact batch.

Some discussion, now that we have Exhibit A

This section added in the Feb 4, 2015 update

This very well could be a “legal” product

Looking at the incomplete data provided to us in Exhibit A, if this is a valid lab test with a perfect chain of custody, MusclePharm might not have done anything technically “illegal” per the FDA guidelines.

Creatine Nitrogen

These nitrogen atoms really throw off any protein calculations using Kjeldahl (which the FDA mandates)

After all, glycine is on the label, and per current guidelines, it does get counted as a protein. Meanwhile, according to Kjeldahl testing, the creatine and the BCAA nitrates would show up as “extra protein”.

So on a purely technical technical technical basis, you might actually have “40g” of “nitrogen based stuff” in here, which sadly qualifies as protein if reading the FDA’s guidelines to the letter of the law. This is all discussed in our original amino acid spiking article.

But is this grounds for suit?

The question is, Is this misleading and deceptive?

That is what the lawsuit is accusing. One major point is that the label states,


This could be the main factor that pushes this suit forward.

Meanwhile, in our other article, we’ve shown that creatine, with its three nitrogen atoms, can really throw off Kjeldahl tests. In addition, adding Nitrate to the BCAAs further complicates matters due to nitrogen being a primary component of Nitrate (formula NO3).

Since we haven’t heard a single update on the other class action complaints, we really don’t know if the courts / judges believe this is misleading / deceptive enough to go to trial or award settlement.

We’ll keep this and our other pages updated as we know more.

/end Feb 4 update

First formal complaint, not the first accusation

This is the first formal accusation of misleading / deceptive claims against MusclePharm, who have been “accused” on Twitter and in various discussion forums quite a bit.

In fact, the accusations were so loud and persistent to the point that MusclePharm released some lab tests for Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron Whey lab tests, although we speculated that there were more questions than answers.

The fact that MusclePharm is now posting certificate of authenticities – with detailed amino information – to the MPSSI, as discussed above, may truly help alleviate consumer fears for any batches of protein that are listed on their site.

What is Arnold’s Role?

When researching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s actual involvement with MusclePharm, we found the following pieces of information:

  • When Arnold signed on with MusclePharm, they awarded him the following:
    • Royalty payments based upon a percentage of net sales of his licensed products (subject to certain minimum amounts)
    • 780,000 shares of MusclePharm’s restricted common stock. Arnold could not sell more than 50% of it for at least six months.[1]
  • The agreement is initially three years, beginning on July 26, 2013. So the Arnold Schwarzenegger Series lives until at least July 25, 2016, barring either party terminates the agreement.[1,2]
    • The agreement may be terminated by either party with a 30-day notice. There would likely be stiff penalties for the side choosing to terminate.
Is Arnold protecting his legacy with this product line?

Is Arnold protecting his legacy with this product line?

This means that if Arnold never sold or gained any MSLP stock (and that’s a big “if”), at the time of publishing this article, he would own $8.02[3] * 780,000 = $6,255,600 worth of MusclePharm.

Since MuslcePharm has 13.11 million shares outstanding, that would amount to him owning 5.95% of the company – one of the most major shareholders. Again, that’s a big if – he could easily have bought or sold more shares.

At the time of the original agreement, however, that number was higher – he originally had an 8.8% stake in the company, which was worth $7.2 million at the time.[2]

Due to the fact that Arnold is not listed on Yahoo’s “Key Holders” page[4], he may no longer have such a stake, as the major shareholder with the least number of shares owns 222,678 shares at time of writing.

This is to provide some perspective as to Arnold’s potential stake in the corporation.

We’ll keep this post up to date and try to get our hands on Exhibit A for you, as it is publicly available information.

Update, May 2016: Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals has jumped in on the act, and are now suing both Brad Pyatt and MusclePharm over unfair competition.

Like this Post? We have more on the way…

PricePlow is a price comparison site that asks one simple question: is this worth it?

The honest truth lives here. Follow us on social media below:


  1. Form 8-K – MusclePharm Corporation – July 26, 2013;; 2013
  2. Morrell, A; Sports Supplement Company Backed By Arnold Schwarzenegger Facing SEC Investigation; Forbes Magazine; October 17, 2013
  3. MSLP Summary; Yahoo Finance; 2015
  4. MSLP Major Holders; Yahoo Finance; 2015
Posted in , by Mike | Tagged , , , , , , .
  • Shay Sears

    19g of bounded protein? Meaning that out of the listed 40 there is only 19g of true complete protein and not free aminos? Ouch..

    • Correct. I updated the post – I explained this better in past posts, my mistake there. That’s the claim, at least…… still interested to see this actual lab test.

  • David Mills

    If Arnold owns >5% of the company, then we would know if he had sold or purchased shares, wouldn’t we? Because he would have to file with the SEC as a major shareholder, and there haven’t been any filings on his behalf that I have been able to find.

  • Mark Glazier

    So what you’re saying is that the amino matrix added to Arnold Iron Whey is being done for one of two purposes: either the aminos are in sufficient enough quantity so it spikes nitrogen for the purpose of overstating the protein claim, or the amino matrix is merely window dressing, in other words, it’s in such insignificant quantity that it doesn’t spike nitrogen but also doesn’t benefit the user. So MusclePharm is either outright lying about their protein claim, or they are telling the truth and just trying to fool the consumer into believing the product is better than it actually is. The question we’re asking ourselves here is not whether MusclePharm is lying to customers; it’s how bad is the lie!!!

    Why not be truthful? If MusclePharm believes that adding aminos to their protein will give added benefit, why don’t they add them in significant quantities so they actually benefit the user and then back out the nitrogen from the testing and make a legitimate product? Knowing that MusclePharm is putting aminos in the protein to just fool you, isn’t that almost as bad as protein spiking itself? A product is either legit or it’s not. A brand either respects its customer or it doesn’t. There is no middle ground.

    Some of you know who I am, so before you start slamming me, let me admit that I do own one of the oldest supplement brands in the industry. So be it. It doesn’t mean what I’m saying is bullshit. I started writing about protein spiking many years ago and I’m happy that this scam is finally starting to catch the attention of consumers. I have 370 supplements currently on the market, not one has a proprietary blend listed on the label. I banned the use of proprietary blends on my supplements way back in 2001, they are used for one reason only – to deceive the consumer. I have never amino spiked, I have never used WPC34, WPC60 or WPC75, prosweet, sweet whey, dairy creamers or any other bullshit gimmicks to bring down the cost of my protein, and I have never fairy dusted my supplements with under-dosed ingredients. I think brands that use these deceitful tactics are nothing more than snake oil salesman.

  • WatcherintheRye

    I can tell you with or without this lawsuit, this company is shady. I purchased the Iron Mass product in a 5# container which is all they offered. No smaller sizes, no samples to try, etc.
    It tasted HORRIBLE. Texture and taste were offensive.
    I tried to return it to the store for EXCHANGE for something I knew I liked ( almost anything else would do..) and they refused saying they couldn’t get their refund.
    I looked on the container for a phone number to MusclePharm – nothing.
    I went to the web site, finally found a contact number, called the company and got some low life, poorly trained, ignorant moron that wanted to argue with me.
    My statement is simple: This stuff tastes terrible, I’ve tried to fix it up with various additions and still it’s just NASSSSTY.
    His response was 2 things:
    1) We do not guarantee taste
    2) I use it and I think it tastes fine.

    I have posted comments on FB page and been blocked ( but never contacted)
    I have posted comments on Arnold’s FB page also… same thing.

    They get your $60 and it’s basically ‘screw you” PLUS now they have been busted for cheating on the labels.
    This is good reason to NEVER EVER do business with this company EVER.
    I hope they go out of business and crash in flames.

    • David

      I picked up the 5# container Iron Mass today and it tastes good, no where near horrible or nasty.
      Generally, I hate restaurant /fast-food milkshakes because they use artificial flavors. Iron Mass tastes better than those milkshakes majority of Americans do not have any issue with.
      Texture is about the same as other top-rated protein powers I’ve tried. It mixed well by hand and spoon with cold water/milk.

  • somesome11

    Any additional follow up? I’m curious about the whole glycine thing, I thought even their own testing showed it to be ridiculously high (on a phone, hard to flip tabs to verify), and the FDA supposedly clarified that protein was supposed to only be complete bonded protein sources. Any additional outcome from this case? I know lawsuits can take forever, but all I can find is the accusations from months ago, no follow up on the lawsuit or anything.

    • Unfortunately, there’s been no follow-up responses but we’ll try again. Usually everyone’s quiet during a case (either gag orders or just don’t want to taint the case).

      The good news is that you can now look up the contests of each MP protein tub on their MPSSI site.

      But the fact is, beef protein powder is notoriously low quality protein. It’s not like eating a steak. We REALLY need to write about that. Use beef protein powder as a last option unless you see a full amino acid profile and leucine is above 10%.

      • G Costello

        Do you happen to have a true 3rd party lab result for Arnold Iron Whey?