A significant number of Drug Free Sport NZ’s positive tests have come about as a result of an athlete taking a supplement that contains a prohibited substance.
Drug Free Sport NZ advises all athletes to treat supplements with caution and we’d recommend you advise your child to be wary of supplements.
Supplements are risk because:
- they could contain substances which are banned in sport
- they may not have adequate quality control or accurately label ingredients so you cannot be sure of exactly what’s in them
- they frequently do not provide the benefits they claim
A study funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001 of nutritional supplements found that of the 600-plus supplements tested, around 15 per cent contained steroids or related compounds which were not listed on the label.
Supplements include the following:
- protein shakes
- energy drinks
- herbal remedies
- meal replacements
- products which claim to assist weight loss or provide energy during workouts
- or products which claim to assist muscle development etc.
Products which are marketed as assisting weight loss, muscle development or providing energy are likely to be more risky.
Encourage your child to focus on diet and nutrition in order to improve their sporting performance. The following resources may be helpful:
- the Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission’s Nutrition for Athletes
- The United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Nutrition Guide
- NZ’s Millennium Institute of Sport and Health and Nestlé have put together a collection of nutrition advice sheets for specific sports.
If your child does decide to take supplements, encourage them to gather as much information about the supplement they intend to take as possible.
Athletes take any supplement at their own risk and Drug Free Sport NZ cannot guarantee any supplement, but you can check the risks associated some of the more common products available in New Zealand here.