Supplements containing prohibited substances found in Consumer NZ investigation

24 Feb 2022

Illegal and prohibited substances discovered

Woman pours protein powder into a blender.

Six sports supplements containing illegal drugs were recently discovered for sale in a number of supplement stores in Aotearoa New Zealand thanks to an investigation by Consumer NZ.

The contaminated supplements were found to contain drugs, including amphetamine-like stimulants to Parkinson's and ADHD medications. In addition to being illegal, three of the substances are prohibited in sport.

“Although it seems unthinkable that illegal drugs could make their way into supplements for general sale, we’re unsurprised at the findings of this investigation and commend Consumer NZ for their work,” said Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) Chief Executive Nick Paterson.

“Our message is clear,” he continued, “supplements are a threat to clean athletes. We advise anyone who plays sport at any level to think carefully before taking supplements. You’re bound by your sport’s anti-doping rules, and one dodgy supplement could leave you with a ban from all sport.”

Mr Paterson was also concerned about the target market for some of these problems, which reflects the growing popularity of supplements among our rangatahi.

“It’s deeply concerning that some of these supplements look like something a well-meaning parent could buy to support their teen during exam season.”

Image of a can of 'Focus Aid' - a supplement found to contain illegal substances by Consumer NZ.

Image from Consumer NZ.

“Our advice to anyone supporting a young athlete is to avoid supplements. A food first approach to nutrition can give rangatahi everything they need to train hard and recover safely.”

This investigation also gives credence to a 2016 Australian study, which found that 1 in 5 supplements contained substances that are prohibited in sport and unlisted on the label. Poor manufacturing practices and inadequate labelling and regulation mean that you can never be 100% sure what’s inside a supplement. Now there’s proof that the situation here in Aotearoa New Zealand is no different.

Athletes take supplements at their own risk and are 100% responsible for what they put in their body. Any athletes considering supplements should first check out DFSNZ’s Supplement Decision Making Guide at drugfreesport.org.nz/good-decisions.

Find more information about supplements in sport at drugfreesport.org.nz/supplements.

Read more: Consumer NZ investigation, "Does your sports supplement contain illegal drugs?"

Substances found by Consumer NZ

Illegal and prohibited in sport

Beta-phenethylamine (PEA)
Octodrine
N-Methyltyramine Hydrochloride (4-hydroxy-N-methylphenethylamine), (NMTN)

Illegal

Deanol (Dimethylethanolamine)
Mucuna pruriens (Fabaceae)
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
Hordenine