Nine percent of doping violations due to supplements



From Ergo Log

About 6 to 9 percent of all sports-related doping incidents are caused by supplements use. Sports scientists at Victoria University in Australia came to this conclusion after analysing all recent doping violations recorded in Australia, England and the US.


Doping in supplements
Since the 1990s doping hunters have been catching athletes for using illegal substances despite the fact that the athletes have only been using permitted supplements. (Studies have shown that 40-70 percent of athletes take supplements.) In the first decade of the 21st century the main culprits were anabolic steroid analogues, which convert into testosterone, nandrolone and boldenone in the body. These substances are called prohormones. In 2004 German biochemists found anabolic steroid analogues in 15 percent of the supplements tested. [Int J Sports Med. 2004 Feb;25(2):124-9.]

The prohormones ended up in the supplements mainly because the factories where the supplements were produced also manufacture products containing prohormones. When the American government assigned prohormones the same status as anabolic steroids in 2004, prohormones disappeared from the market – and from supplements too. But the problem of doping substances being found in supplements continued, because the manufacturers replaced prohormones with designer steroids – full blown anabolic steroids most of which had never made it to the market, had never been tested on humans and that the supplements manufacturers had dug up from old patents and the scientific literature.


Methasterone, methyl-epithiostanol and desoxymethyltestosterone were some of these designer steroids.


By 2010 the designer steroid era had come to an end. Government agencies had become aware of the problem, doping hunters had adjusted their tests, governments tightened legislation and supplements sellers withdrew designer steroids from their shelves.


But this doesn’t mean that the problem of doping substances in supplements has been solved. Athletes who use supplements have increasingly frequently shown positive since 2010 when they’ve been tested for stimulants: compounds with a biological effect that resembles that of amphetamine. Substances that do this include N,alpha-di-ethylphenylethylamine, oxilofrine, beta-methylphenethylamine [Drug Test Anal. 2015 Apr 7. doi: 10.1002/dta.1793. [Epub ahead of print].] and N,N-dimethyl-2-phenylpropan-1-amine. [Drug Test Anal. 2015 Apr;7(4):331-5.]


How often?
But just how big is the problem of supplements being contaminated with dope? Simon Outram and Bob Stewart of Victoria University set out to answer this question in their article in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.


They analysed press articles on doping cases dealt with by the Australian doping authority ASADA, the British UKAD and the American USADA in the period 2006-2013. Their study showed that 6.4 to 8.8 percent of the doping incidents were the result of supplements use.


We put together all the data the Australians had gathered and came up with the figure below. It indicates that the problem of doping in supplements has certainly not declined.


Blue line = total number of doping incidents; red line = number of doping cases involving supplements.


Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Feb;25(1):54-9.





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