Test claims sports supplements contain illegal substances

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags World anti-doping agency

A non-profit supplement testing program has issued a report
revealing banned substances exist in certain sports-related dietary
supplements, which has generated a buzz in the mainstream media and
concern from industry itself.

Informed-Choice is a partnership of supplement makers that was created in response to the inadvertent contamination of athletes with banned substances.

Of 54 samples the group had tested by the HFL lab in the UK, six showed the presence of stimulant contamination and 13 showed the presence of steroid contamination.

The report is likely to raise a negative reaction from the dietary supplement industry itself, given that it has frequently been the target of tests which it says involve undisclosed or unreliable methods as well as a dubious selection process.

Nonetheless, Informed-Choice says its results show a situation has not greatly improved for supplements since a study conducted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between 2000 and 2002 found that almost 15 percent of 634 dietary supplements tested from 13 countries contained undeclared steroids or prohormones.

"It is clear that not all supplement manufacturers follow good manufacturing practices (though GMP regulations do not specifically address banned substance screening - so many manufacturers who do follow GMP are still prone to contamination issues) and that the necessary controls are not always implemented to ensure the safety of athletes and the general public who use supplement products," states the Informed-Choice report.

Informed-Choice has not however released the names of the products it tested, which has drawn a concerned reaction from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

"We strongly urge Informed-Choice to immediately release the names of the brands/products that allegedly failed the tests, as well as the brands/products which passed," said CRN president and CEO Steven Mister.

"If consumers' safety, health and wellness are the primary concerns for this organization, then this is the right thing to do."

Informed-Choice consists of six member companies: Champion Nutrition, FSI Nutrition, Full Performance, Natural Alternatives, Strength Pro and USANA.

The organization says it runs product assessment and training, via the HFL lab, and serves as an extension of quality-assurance programs through its independent board of medical nutrition and pharmacology professionals.

CRN asks that HFL's exact testing methods for this analysis be released.

"Additionally, we call on Informed-Choice to also release the full study, including the methods used for testing, whether those methods were validated for supplements and the alleged levels of contamination, to determine if the report is accurate," said Mister.

According to Informed-Choice, the supplements used in the test were randomly selected and bought from internet health food outlets and health food retailers.

The categories of these products were chosen based on what Informed-Choice says is HFL's knowledge of products commonly used by male and female athletes, including popular brands of these products.

The samples were analysed for the presence of a range of steroids and stimulants that appear on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited of substances, using both GCMS and LCMS analysis.

Informed-Choice had not responded to NutraIngredients-USA's request for the names of the products tested in time for publication of this article.

"Consumers-and FDA- further deserve to know that there are reputable companies in the supplement industry that have consumers' best interests at heart and go to great lengths to ensure their products are contamination-free," said Mister.

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