Supplements: A cautionary tale

29 April 2020

How a nine-month sanction from sport changed marathon runner Cassie Fien’s life.

The date 20 April 2017 will be forever etched in Cassie Fien’s memory.

What began with a routine anti-doping test, ended with a nine-month sanction from all sport.

“It will always be hanging over my head,” says Cassie of her sanction.

Cassie says she found it difficult to combine her professional and athletic careers so she took a supplement she thought was safe to use in sport.

She was wrong.

Unbeknownst to Cassie, her supplement contained a substance which was not listed on the product. The substance, Higenamine, is a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List.

“What I was struggling with was being an elite athlete but not having the lifestyle to be able to live like one,” she says. “And that’s when I was naïve and got drawn into those supplement companies.”

Cassie says it’s “still raw” now.

“My passion out of life went, my purpose out of life went … I had to rebuild my life. I just don’t see it (running) not being in my life or a part of who I am.”

It’s hard, Cassie says, but she takes ownership of her mistake.

“At the end of the day the big message they do get across to you at ASADA and I’ve always taken it on board is that you are responsible for what you put in your body.

“Supplement companies are out to make money and they will do it any way they can, even by deception. If that affects humans, money trumps that.”

Cassie warns other athletes to reconsider their supplement use and to learn from her experience.

“A positive test affects more than just you. It affects your team, your coach, your family.

“It’s not just the athlete that suffers, it’s everyone around them. If I could just reach out to even one athlete to just go, ‘I probably don’t need to take what I’m taking’, then that’s my job done.”

ASADA recommends you check all your substances before you take them on the ASADA Clean Sport app. For more information visit: ASADA tech.

Developed in collaboration with Athletics Australia, Cassie told her story here.