Are you aware that the use of supplements can present
a risk and may result in a positive test?
What are Supplements?
Although there is no clear definition, supplements are products used alongside a normal diet that are promoted to improve general health and wellbeing or enhance sporting performance.
They can include sports drinks or vitamin tablets or herbal products, which claim to help with building muscle, increasing endurance, weight gain or loss, improving suppleness, rehydrating, aiding recovery or overcoming a mineral deficiency.
Dietary supplements can be found in pill, tablet, capsule, powder or liquid form.
Why are Supplements such a High Risk?
Unlike foods and medicines the supplement industry is subjected to little government regulation, consequently supplements may:
* intentionally contain certain prohibited substances
* unintentionally be contaminated with prohibited substances during the manufacturing process
* not accurately list ingredients on the label e.g. falsified or omitted
* make false certification claims e.g. WADA Approved
* make false health claims
* not list cautionary information e.g. side effects to health and health risks
* be counterfeit (fake), especially when purchased online
You will no doubt have seen athletes taking supplements but, if you are considering the use of supplements, our advice is to assess the Need, Risks and Consequences before you do so:
Assessing the Need
Optimise your diet, lifestyle and training and consult a registered nutritionist or a sport medicine doctor before taking supplements.
Assessing the Risk
If you do decide to use supplements, assess the associated risks and make informed decisions about the products you use. Supplements may claim to be drug-free or safe for drug-tested athletes but because there is little government regulation it is impossible to know whether or not a supplement is free from prohibited substances. The number of anti-doping violations resulting from the use of supplements shows the extreme risk an athlete runs using supplements; there are no guarantees that any supplements will be free from prohibited substances.
To minimise the risk you should research the product through a registered nutritionist or a sports medicine doctor, the internet may not be a reliable source of information. Research the product before using it (name, ingredients/substances listed. Keep evidence of your research and only use batch tested supplement products).
Assess the Consequences
Remember strict liability, you are responsible for what goes into your body. The sanction for intentional cheating is 4 years for the first offence
To get a reduction in a 2-year sanction for inadvertently doping, you must provide substantial proof you did your research and were not intending to cheat.
Is the risk worth the gain?
If a supplement does contain banned substances how will this affect your career?
It’s very difficult to prove that the presence of banned substances from supplements were through no significant fault on your part as you have already been advised that there is a risk in taking them.
There is a risk minimisation scheme called Informed-Sport; a supplement manufacturer testing and certification programme, which aims to assure athletes that products carrying the Informed-Sport mark have been regularly tested for prohibited substances and manufactured to strict standards.
It is not possible to provide a 100 per cent guarantee that any supplement is totally free of contamination; Informed-Sport is only a risk minimisation programme. However, if you have made the decision to use a supplement, it is better to be taking one that has been subjected to credible testing and appropriate manufacturing controls.