The Biggest Loser has faced many controversies through the years — contestants accused the show of mental and physical abuse, Kai Hibbard admitted she was embarrassed to have participated in such a “fat-shaming disaster,” and some Biggest Losers left only to gain nearly all the weight back (Ali Vincent) or lose an alarming and potentially dangerous amount of weight (Rachel Frederickson).
But now, the show is in hotter water than ever before. While NBC hasn’t aired any new episodes of The Biggest Loser since 2016 (they never officially announced it’s cancellation either), The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the network launched an investigation to determine if contestants were being drugged to lose weight.
News of the investigation surfaced thanks to a defamation lawsuit between the New York Post and Dr. Robert Huizenga (“Dr. H”), a sports doctor who worked on The Biggest Loser for 17 seasons. Dr. H claims that stories published by The New York Post presented incorrect information and caused him to lose work, not only with NBC, but with other networks, including ABC, Bravo, MTV, Oxygen, Spike, Fox, The CW, Discovery, Univision, National Geographic, Netflix and more (this guy gets around!). But what were those claims exactly?
Well, after conducting a series of interviews with former contestants, the New York Post reported that Dr. H used “questionable medical exams” and provided “Adderall and pills containing FDA-banned Ephedra” to assist contestants in their weight-loss journey, which isn’t great. Actually, that’s really, really bad for both Dr. H and The Biggest Loser.
As a result of the lawsuit, NBC was subpoenaed and asked to produce documents exploring what it knew about The Biggest Loser‘s drug use, medical concerns, compensation and (unofficial) cancellation. NBC’s attorney is arguing that such documents are protected by attorney-client privilege.
The New York Post isn’t satisfied with NBC’s response and is continuing to demand documents that explain why NBC canceled the show.
“Amazingly, NBC maintains that it located no responsive documents and, as such, it produced zero documents concerning the non-renewal of the Show,” Steven Mintz, one of The New York Post’s attorneys, wrote in a letter to the New York federal judge overseeing the case. “It is simply not plausible that NBC cancelled a television show that ran for seventeen seasons and that was, at one point, one of NBC’s highest rated programs — all without a single individual sending a single email, whether it be internal to NBC employees that previously worked on the Show or external to the production company responsible for producing subsequent seasons of the Show.”
Either way, the entire lawsuit is turning into a much bigger problem for NBC that likely won’t go away soon. It’s probably also safe to say we may never see another Biggest Loser episode again.