The issues of steroid contamination and the tendency for athletes to blame doping offences on contaminated sports supplements was discussed by attendees at the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus.
“There is a great deal of misinformation that gets circulated in the press and by athletes and this is a good opportunity to hear the facts from the experts,” said John Gay, executive director and chief executive officer of the Natural Products Association which co-hosted the event along with the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
CRN president, Steve Mister, said athletes blaming supplements rarely worked as a defense against doping.
“In the vast majority of cases, when an athlete blames a dietary supplement, that accusation does not pan out and it turns out that an athlete has used the dietary supplement as a scapegoat,” he said.
“However, there have been times when illegal steroids have been found in products marketed as dietary supplements—and let’s make this clear—illegal steroids have no place in dietary supplement products. People who put illegal substances in those products are criminals.”
Douglas S. Kalman, Ph.D., R.D, said the imposition of GMPs made it harder for athletes to blame supplements, as label claims were better mandated.
“The dietary supplement industry is a very active industry and an ethical industry, but for those companies that sell adulterated products or drugs masked as dietary supplements, hopefully all legal actions that are available [to FDA] are taken against them,” Dr Kalman said.
Dr. Kalman then went on to review beneficial supplementation for athletes and provided greater insight into how experts can convey appropriate messages about training, nutrition and the use of safe and legal dietary supplements to athletes. He then fielded questions on a range of topics from how to handle the issue of using sports supplements with young and teen athletes, to recent concerns about vitamin D deficiency in the United States.
The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus Representatives, Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dan Burton (R-IN), noted the important role dietary supplements play in the diet.
“An estimated 150 million Americans, including myself and other members of Congress, use dietary supplements each year,” Polis said.
The briefings will continue to discuss dietary supplements issues at quarterly intervals.