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What should Athletes look for in the Nutritional Supplements?

Published : Sep 06, 2019 3 mins read Updated On : Sep 20, 2023

What are supplements?

Nutritional supplements cover a broad range of products including vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet. The marketplace supplies thousands of supplements claiming to provide nutritional support for athletes. Some of these consist of high-protein products, such as amino acid supplements, while other products contain nutrients that support metabolism, energy, and athletic performance and recovery. Supplements can be found in pill, tablet, capsule, powder or liquid form, etc.

The facts - what you need to know about supplements

  • All athletes must undertake thorough internet research prior to using any supplement product. This is a WADA Code requirement.
  • Not knowing is not an excuse. If you test positive, it will be for you to prove how the banned substance entered your system.
  • The Code makes a provision for contaminated products (supplements), so make sure you can prove that you have taken all steps to manage the risks associated with supplement use.
  • One Should check for trusted banned substances tested products certification.

What that means for you?

Many athletes fail tests because of the supplement products they use.

The risks with supplements are:

  • Supplements can contain banned substances
  • Supplements can be contaminated with banned substances during the manufacturing process
  • Supplements may contain ingredients listed differently to how they appear on the Prohibited List
  • Be wary of fake supplement products, especially when buying over the internet

WADA, UK Anti-Doping or other anti-doping organizations do not endorse or approve supplement products, and any product claiming it is ‘safe for athletes to take’ should be used with extreme caution.

Many suggest that athlete should not take any supplements but due to additional energy requirements in the game, there may be circumstances where sports dieticians recommend supplements, or where athletes use supplements regardless of the risk.

Athletes should only use supplements which have been screened for prohibited substances by an independent company, such as  Informed Sport Supplements.

What should Athletes look for in the Nutritional Supplements?


Millions of people around the world, including athletes, look to supplements as a way to boost their sports performance. However, supplements pose a real risk for athletes with about half of all anti-doping rule violations (sport bans). Being aware of the risks is the first step to staying in the game.

All athletes should be aware of the three A’s for protecting a sporting career:

1 (Be) Aware
2 (Do your) Analysis
3 (Take steps to) Avoid

What are the risks?

The supplement industry is poorly regulated, so the ingredient list doesn't always match the product contents. That makes it difficult for any athlete to know exactly what is going into their body. It is not uncommon for banned substances to be added deliberately during the manufacturing process, or added accidentally through contamination. It is for these reasons ASADA is unable to guarantee whether a specific supplement, or batch of a supplement, is safe to use.

What should Athletes look for in the Nutritional Supplements?

Consequences of supplement use by athletes

Products containing a prohibited substance can result in bans of up to months-four years for athletes. The presence of a prohibited substance in a supplement may result in an anti-doping rule violation, whether its use was intentional or unintentional. Under the World Anti-Doping Code’s strict liability principle, athletes are ultimately responsible for any substance found in their body, regardless of how it got there. That means, even if the prohibited substance is not listed on the label of a supplement, if you consume it, you are still responsible. In addition to facing a possible ban from sport, there are some supplements on the market that contain prohibited stimulants which can pose serious health risks for athletes.

What should Athletes look for in the Nutritional Supplements?

Sayali Naik
Sayali Naik
Fast&Up Nutrition Consultant

Sayali works with a tons of people and players across the globe and across the sports disciplines, from grassroot to professional Cricketers, Football players, Badminton. Sayali is extremely passio... Read More

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