With sports authorities keener than ever to clamp down on doping, it is becoming increasingly important for athletes to know exactly what is contained in dietary supplements so as to avoid accidentally taking banned substances.
With this in mind, American dietary supplements company Pharmanex has produced a guide, called the Athletes' Guide to Safe Supplementation, which focuses on five classes of prohibited ingredients which can commonly be found in dietary supplements.
Pharmanex said that by educating athletes about the issue of banned substances it hoped to reduce the risk of athletes using dietary supplements that could trigger a positive doping test.
The company said that it had a policy of not using any ingredients prohibited in international athletics competitions and that it tested all of its products at independent labs to ensure no banned substances were inadvertently introduced during the manufacturing process.
However, Pharmanex said, athletes may need more information about products which do contain these substances. Much of the confusion relates to ingredients in supplements and OTC products that are legal for sale in the United States, but are prohibited for use by athletes involved in world-class competition.
"By concentrating on the ingredients that athletes commonly come in contact with, we felt our brochure would help shed additional light on a confusing subject," said Joe Chang, Ph.D., president of Pharmanex.
"We know that athletes sometimes unknowingly use products that could cause a positive doping test, but they may also be shying away from effective dietary supplements that are free of banned substances. Clear guidance on this issue is hard to find - this guide is a first step in providing the information necessary to make informed decisions," concluded Chang.
The brochure examines five popular ingredients prohibited in international competition: DHEA, androstenedione, ephedrine, caffeine and synephrine. Classified as stimulants and anabolic agents, these ingredients are prevalent in products that help manage weight, relieve common cold symptoms, boost energy, reduce fatigue and increase muscle strength.
The brochure identifies the ingredients' scientific names, notes whether they constitute a health risk and/or provide an unfair competitive advantage, and gives a sampling of products currently on the market that contain these prohibited substances.
The guide also describes why these ingredients are banned for use by athletes engaged in world-level competition even though they are legally available for sale. It also focuses on common questions asked about dietary supplements in an effort to dispel popular myths and provide critical education.