Supplements can pose a risk to the health and career of athletes.
Nutritional supplements cover a broad range of products including vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet.
The marketplace supplies thousands of supplements claiming to provide nutritional support for athletes. Some of these consist of high-protein products, such as amino acid supplements, while other products contain nutrients that support metabolism, energy, and athletic performance and recovery. Supplements can be found in pill, tablet, capsule, powder or liquid form.
Athletes who take supplements are at risk of committing an anti-doping rule violation. This is because substances prohibited in sport may be added deliberately during the supplement manufacturing process, or included inadvertently through contamination. As such, ASADA cannot advise athletes whether a specific supplement, or batch of a supplement, contains prohibited substances.
ASADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency do not endorse supplement products.
The presence of a prohibited substance in a supplement may result in an anti-doping rule violation, whether its use was intentional or unintentional. Under the World Anti-Doping Code’s strict liability principle, athletes are ultimately responsible for any substance found in their body, regardless of how it got there.
In addition to facing a possible ban from sport, there are some supplements on the market that contain prohibited stimulants which can pose health risks for athletes and potentially expose them to criminal sanctions. Examples include:
Important—these prohibited substances are not always listed on the supplement’s ingredient label.
Before considering the use of supplements an athlete should look to optimise their diet, lifestyle and training. Consulting an accredited sports dietitian, nutritionist, or medical expert can help an athlete assess whether there is any need to, or benefit in, taking supplements.
The risk of doping through the use of supplements is real. Prior to using any supplement, an athlete should ask themselves:
If you are in doubt about the first two questions, the product should not be used. The third and fourth questions are intended to help the athlete consider what potential benefit, if any, the supplement may offer.
Despite the claims made by supplement manufacturers that their products are safe and free of substances prohibited in sport, it is not possible to offer an absolute guarantee to athletes. It is for this reason ASADA and WADA do not endorse supplement products or offer advice to athletes about which supplement to take. There have been cases where both Australian and international athletes have been sanctioned after they have used supplements that they thought were safe, but were actually contaminated with prohibited substances.
If an athlete chooses to use supplements, they should weigh up the risks and make an informed decision.
While it is not possible to guarantee that supplements are 100 per cent free of prohibited substances, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) aims to give athletes some guidance when assessing a supplement.
The AIS runs the AIS Sports Supplement Program which categorises sports foods and supplements according to the level of scientific support that they receive. An expert panel formed by the AIS meets regularly to assess the status of supplements, consider new supplements and decide on modifications to the classification system.
Visit the AIS Sports Supplement Program to learn more.
Athletes need to be aware under the World Anti-Doping Code they are ultimately responsible for any prohibited substance found in their body. Athletes should understand the risk of supplement use and make every attempt to minimise those risks.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is advising all Australian athletes subject to in-competition doping control to be cautious of the supplements DS Craze, Mesomorph 2.0 and Viking Before Battle.
Laboratory analysis identified a batch of:
These prohibited substances ARE NOT ALWAYS listed on the supplement’s ingredient label.
The supplement Viking Before Battle, which is available in Australia, lists the substance Methyl Synepherine on the ingredients label. Despite the difference in spelling this substance is the same as the prohibited stimulant Methylsynephrine.
These substances are classed as S6 stimulants on the Prohibited List and are prohibited in-competition.
Sporting bans involving these substances can range up to two-years.
In addition to being a prohibited substance in sport, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) considers N,alpha-diethyl-benzeneethanamine to be an analogue of the border controlled substance methamphetamine under the Criminal Code (C’wth). The product DS Craze is subject to seizure by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and, under existing arrangements between the agencies, will be referred to the AFP for investigation and prosecution action.
Oxilofrine has been the subject of a number of reported positive tests worldwide and the substance’s synonym, Methylsynephrine is listed on the label (as Methyl Synepherine) of a supplement available in Australia called Viking Before Battle.
It has also been found in other supplements in Germany and Canada despite not being declared on the ingredient label. In these countries the supplements found to contain Oxilofrine make claims of extreme fat loss or increases in mental performance in their marketing.
ASADA cautions athletes who compete under an anti-doping policy to take extreme care with DS Craze, Mesomorph 2.0, Viking Before Battle and other supplements, particularly those claiming benefits such as fat loss or an increase in mental performance.
Read the ingredients label, does it say ‘proprietary blend’? If it does, there is no telling what has been added in the manufacturing process and this is the risk you take.
Athletes using supplements do so at their own risk because they can be contaminated with prohibited substances. Under the World Anti-Doping Code’s principle of strict liability, athletes are responsible for any substance found in their body.
Supplements continue to be the source of preventable anti-doping rule violations both in Australia and overseas, so understand the risks to your health, career and reputation these products present.
Because of supplement manufacturing processes can lead to their contents varying from batch to batch, ASADA cannot give any specific supplement the all clear.
Methylhexaneamine is classed as a stimulant on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List and it is prohibited in-competition.
Generally, stimulants act directly on the central nervous system to speed up parts of the brain and body. They can increase alertness and reduce fatigue.
It is important for athletes to realise that a supplement’s list of ingredients may describe methylhexaneamine under a different name. Some of those names are listed here:
Since 2010, ASADA has managed a number of positive tests from Australian athletes resulting from the use of supplements containing methylhexaneamine. There are other matters which are ongoing. Based on information provided by these athletes, the positive test resulted from the athlete using one of the following supplements:
In these cases, athletes have been banned from participating in sport for periods ranging from six months to two years. This has been the case even where the athlete was able to show that they were unaware a supplement contained methylhexaneamine. The World Anti-Doping Code imposes a duty on each athlete to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his or her body, which means that an athlete is ultimately responsible for any prohibited substance detected in a sample they provide. If you are an athlete using these products and you are tested in-competition, you run the risk of returning a positive result. There are other products that are known to contain methylhexaneamine, so please read the label and the manufacturer’s website carefully.