NSF will test supplements chosen by the federation at its lab in Rheda-Weidenbrück, Germany. The supplements will be screened for the presence of about 260 banned substances. Athletes will be supplied with the test results to help inform their supplementation decisions.
Martin Krainz, business development manager at NSF International, said the testing agreement is a step up in what the federation has been doing.
“The federation has required supplement testing in the past, but this is the most comprehensive testing program yet. They were looking for a highly competent lab in Germany with a wider range of banned substance testing capabilities,” Krainz told NutraIngredients-USA.
Krainz said the agreement is a testing-only arrangement, and thus differs somewhat from deals NSF has with other sports bodies.
“NSF’s existing agreements with Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and other sports associations in North America are based on NSF‘s Certified for Sport certification program. In some of those agreements, teams and players are required to use only NSF Certified for Sport supplements,” Krainz said.
“In this case, however, the Austrian Ski Federation has selected a test-only service from NSF International, so it is not based on the Certified for Sport program. The Federation’s Elite-level athletes are educated about NSF‘s certified products but certification is not required by the ski federation,” he said.
As part of the agreement and at the request of the athlete, NSF International is also testing supplements used by Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher is a seven-time FIS World Cup winner and double Olympic gold medallist.
Supplement blamed in doping failure
The Austrian federation is sensitive to the potential risk posed by supplements. In late 2004 one of its skiers, Hans Knauss, a former Olympic silver medalist, tested positive for an anabolic steroid after a downhill race in Canada.
Knauss blamed a tainted supplement for his doping failure. But a review board didn’t buy that argument, and clapped a ban on Knauss that was long enough in duration to induce the 34-year-old to retire.
“When we learned that NSF tests for approximately 260 banned substances in their laboratory in Germany, we knew that this is exactly the level of safety that we need for our athletes,” said Dr. Wolfgang Schobersberger, anti-doping advisor to the Austrian Ski Federation and head of sports medicine at Tirol Kliniken Innsbruck.
“We continue to put the interest of our athletes’ safety and reputation first,” he said.