Blog: 1 in 5 supplements tainted with banned substances

30 June 2016

Athletes can spend their entire lives working towards a career goal – whether it is the Olympics, a National Championship or a Grand Final.

They train hard, they sleep well, they eat smart, and they make many sacrifices along the way. But all that hard work can be undone in an instant if they make the wrong choice about a supplement.

In fact, new research announced today found that 1 in 5 supplements surveyed were tainted with banned substances that could register a positive doping test. For athletes, this could mean a ban of up to four years from sport.

Conducted by life science company LGC, the Australian Supplements Survey analysed 67 common supplement products available for purchase in Australia. They included pre-workout, post-workout, protein, fat-burning and multivitamin products to name a few, and covered things like powders, drinks, tablets and edible bars. Each one was then analysed to see whether they contained substances prohibited in sport – like anabolic agents, stimulants, and diuretics.

They found that of the 67 products, 13 contained one or more substances that are banned in sport. Importantly, none of the 13 products listed any banned substances on their ingredients list.

The new research supports ASADA’s long-standing warning for athletes about the risks of using supplements. There is no way for an athlete to be certain that any supplement is safe to use and under the World Anti-Doping Code’s principle of strict liability, athletes risk a doping violation regardless of whether they used a banned substance on purpose.

For more information about supplements and how to weigh up the benefits against the risks, visit our supplements page.

The Australian Institute of Sport supplements page and Play by the Rules have further information for athletes considering the use of these products. The Australian Sports Supplement survey conducted by LGC is available for download on their website. The survey was not commissioned by ASADA.