Following yet another positive drugs test, BBC2's Newsnight on Friday night devoted much airtime to the claim that many sports nutrition companies manufacture products contaminated with banned substances. Former athlete Sebastian Coe advised sportspeople to eat their greens rather than mess about with any supplements whatsoever...

Science in Sport up in arms over Newsnight’s coverage of sports supplements

The Newsnight reporter said a recent German study [see…/1402087.stm href=”"] had found that up to 20 percent of some supplements were found to be contaminated with banned substances. However, no companies were named and Peter Slater of SiS (Science in Sport) Limited believes this omission tars all sports nutrition companies with the same brush.

"The alarmist nature of the programme, giving airtime to people saying “do not take any supplements” may have caused unnecessary distress to the many athletes and sports people using legitimate food supplements from quality, ethical suppliers," said Slater.

"There needs to be more information available about the products that have been found to cause positive tests, and more information about ethical, high quality sports nutrition products and safe suppliers of such products.

"There are companies that produce food supplements that are legal, but would cause a positive drug test (like the pro-hormones 19-nor etc), leading to a positive test by the unwitting athlete who uses these products, or by contamination of what would be IOC legal products produced on the same line.

"There are many companies within the sports nutrition sector that rely on contract manufacturers. There is little control of what was previously on the same line, and there are undoubtedly a minority of companies involved in the production and distribution of anabolic steroids.

"There is probably also a minority of athletes using steroids and citing nutritional supplements as a convenient excuse. People are more likely to fall foul of IOC doping regulations with what they would consider ‘normal food’ than with any SiS nutritional supplements, because of the increasing use of hormones in meat production and the fortification of food with vitamins and herbal products."

Science in Sport is a family-owned business and makes its own products in its own factory.

Slater said SiS only uses additives such as creatine and glutamine that are pharmaceutical grade, and with all ingredients sourced from approved suppliers, to precise specifications, with each batch coming complete with a Certificates of Analysis.

NB Questions that athletes could ask their sports nutrition supplier include (info provided by SiS):

1, Do they make any products that contravene IOC regulations? There is nothing necessarily wrong with the companies that make these legal products, and these products are useful in sports where there is a more relaxed attitude as to what is considered doping –but it may give a useful indication as to the ethos of the company for those who need to ensure that they do not fall foul of doping regulations.

2, Do they make any pro-hormones or herbal supplements? Some herbal supplements such as ephedra, sometimes declared as Ma-Huang, are directly related to banned substances e.g. ephedrine. Ginseng extracts sometimes declared as eleutherococcus senticosus have been reported to contain substances that are considered doping by the IOC.

3. Do they make the products themselves or are they reliant on contract blenders and packers?

Science in Sport

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