Supplements and their risks

Athletes are often tempted to take dietary or sports supplements in order to boost muscle mass, lose weight or improve endurance.  

Drug Free Sport NZ advises all athletes to carefully assess their need for supplements and to carefully research any supplement they may be considering taking.

We encourage athletes and athlete support personnel to be wary of supplements because:

  • supplements could contain substances which are banned in sport
  • supplements may not have adequate quality control or accurately label ingredients so you cannot be sure of exactly what’s in them.
  • supplements frequently do not provide the benefits they claim.

A number of Drug Free Sport NZ’s positive tests in recent years have been as a result of prohibited substances found in supplements so it’s important that athletes are aware of the risks they take if they consume these products.

Further warning can be found in a recent UK study of supplements (chosen because they appeared to contain anabolic agents due to the name of the product, the ingredients listed, or the nature of their advertising) which found that 23 of the 24 products tested contained anabolic steroids. 

An earlier 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.

If an athlete does decide to take supplements, it's important they 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 they can check the risks associated some of the more common products available in New Zealand here.