Athletes are often tempted to take dietary or sports supplements.
- 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.
As a coach you should encourage athletes to treat supplements with caution 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.
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 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.
And 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.
Most recently in 2016, an Australian survey found that out of 69 pre-workout supplements randomly tested off the shelf, 19 per cent contained substances prohibited in sport.
You can help athletes who are tempted to take supplements by encouraging them to focus on diet and nutrition instead. 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 an athlete 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.