After a recent anti-doping violation caused by supplement use, the CCES is again drawing attention to the extreme risk an athlete runs when using supplements. While it is easy to assume that an inadvertent anti-doping rule violation can only happen to someone else, in reality anyone that uses supplements is at risk, even after taking any recommended precautionary steps.
What is the CCES’ position regarding supplement use?
The CCES believes the use of most supplements poses an unacceptable risk for athletes and their athletic career. While the CCES does not recommend the use of supplements, we do acknowledge that many athletes choose to use them to support the nutritional demands of training and travelling.
Ultimately, athletes are responsible for any prohibited substance that may be found in their sample; this is known as strict liability. If athletes who use supplements test positive for a prohibited substance, this can result in a violation being declared, regardless of how the prohibited substance got into their body. Serious sanctions may be imposed.
What are the risks associated with supplement use?
Supplements may intentionally contain prohibited substances or may be inadvertently contaminated with prohibited substances. The key issue is that there is little government regulation on the supplement industry. Some supplement manufacturers mislabel their products by not accurately specifying the contents or the relative amounts of each ingredient per dose. It is not uncommon for supplements to be cross-contaminated with banned substances during the manufacturing process if the manufacturer produces other products that contain prohibited substances. Many ingredients are sourced outside of Canada and may be contaminated.
The reality is that there continue to be significant risks associated with supplement use.
What can I do to minimize the risk of using supplements?
Athletes have a personal responsibility to evaluate all the risks associated with supplements before using them.
The NSF Certified for Sport™ program can help athletes identify products that have been tested for purity banned substances, and help minimize the risk of inadvertent doping (www.nsfsport.com).
Additionally, if you choose to use supplements you should take these precautions to minimize your risk. These precautions may help demonstrate that you were not at fault or not significantly at fault if a violation occurs as a result of supplement use. Although in most circumstances a violation will still be declared, proof that the utmost caution was observed may be taken into consideration when the sanction is imposed.
The risks associated with supplementation are clear – the responsibility for assuming these risks ultimately rests with you.