n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Inadvertent doping through nutritional supplements is a reality : original research article

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1015-5163
  • E-ISSN: 2078-516X



<I>Objective.</I> Inadvertent doping through the use of nutritional supplements is a potentially important cause of the increase in positive drug tests involving high-profile Olympic athletes. The aim of this study was to screen over-the-counter nutritional supplements for the presence of steroid or stimulant compounds banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). <br><I>Method.</I> Thirty different nutritional supplements from 14 different manufacturers were bought at shops in Bloemfontein, South Africa and analysed for testosterone and nandrolone prohormones, various ephedrines and caffeine. <br><I>Results.</I> Eighteen (60%) of the 30 supplements contained no prohibited substances. Of the 12 (40%) positive supplements, 8 (66.7%) contained prohormones and 4 (33.3%) contained stimulants. Six supplements contained prohormones, which were listed on the labels, while 2 contained prohormones not listed on the labels. The stimulants were listed on the labels as Ma Huang, Guarana and Kola extracts and all contained a mixture of ephedrines and caffeine. <br><I>Conclusion.</I> The results showed that approximately 7% of supplements tested may be mislabelled or contaminated with banned substances and that inadvertent doping through nutritional supplement use is a reality for athletes. The sporting community should therefore be aware that supplements might contain anabolic androgenic steroids and stimulants that are not declared on the labels.

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