SARMS: Unsafe, illegal, prohibited in sport

26 Aug 2020

What's wrong with SARMS? Everything.

Needles and tablets

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) are experimental medicines claimed to build muscle mass and bone density; and claimed to have fewer side effects than similar products such as steroids. SARMs cannot be purchased legally in New Zealand.

Not safe for human consumption

SARMs pose a risk to athletes’ health as they have not received clinical approval for human consumption. Known side-effects of SARMs can be life threatening, such as liver damage, and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. The long-term side-effects are unknown.

DFSNZ is concerned about SARMs because of the risk they pose to athletes’ health; and the fact that SARMs are prohibited in sport. We are also concerned that SARMs are occasionally turning up in supplements, and we want to make sure athletes are informed of the risks.

DFSNZ often runs clean sport educational workshops in high schools, and we’re concerned by the number of times SARMs are being mentioned by young Kiwi athletes.

Contaminated supplements

Often SARMs are purchased like anabolic steroids, illegally online and through the black market. They are often marketed as research chemicals, stating ‘For Research Purposes Only’ on the label. Illegal medicines sold online may not contain what they say they will. 

SARMs are not legal ingredients for supplements either. There have been instances of products containing SARMs being sold illegally as supplements.

2022 update: Check out our post on a recent Consumer NZ investigation, which found illegal drugs and prohibited substances in six products from six NZ supplement stores

Athletes and parents should be aware that SARMs ingredients could be listed on supplement product labels under various names. The most commonly-abused SARMs are; ligandrol (LGD-4033), ostarine or enobosarm (S-22 or MK-2866), and andarine (S-4). Others include: Testolone (RAD140), S23, and YK11.

Please use our supplement decision making guide to help you to understand the risk of using supplements, and make an informed decision before using any supplement.

DFSNZ and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) do not approve or endorse ANY supplement. We recommend that athletes make the effort to understand their nutritional needs and try to meet these through food first.

Illegal and prohibited in sport

SARMs are illegal in New Zealand and are prohibited in sport.

SARMs have been prohibited by WADA since 2008. SARMs have the potential to be misused for performance enhancement in sport due to their anabolic properties as well as the ability to stimulate androgen receptors in muscle and bone. They are currently prohibited at-all-times in the category of “other anabolic agents” under section S1.2 of the WADA Prohibited List.

Links for more info