Aussie doping saga: Industry association cautions against online purchase of overseas supplements

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) has reassured the safety of Australian made supplements but cautioned against the online purchase of overseas products. ©Getty Images
Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) has reassured the safety of Australian made supplements but cautioned against the online purchase of overseas products. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Australia, Sports nutrition, e-commerce

Trade body Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) has reassured the safety of Australian made supplements but cautioned against the online purchase of overseas products, amid ongoing doping saga involving national swimmer Shayna Jack.

The use of supplements by athletes has come under the spotlight since Jack was tested positive for Ligandrol – a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) used in osteoporosis treatment and muscle mass building – during an Australian swim camp ahead of the world championships in South Korea.

Jack initially linked the substance to contaminated supplements. Her manager Phil Stoneman said that diet and not supplements could be the cause. The case is still under investigation.

Against the backdrop, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) pointed that “supplements are one of the leading causes of failed anti-doping tests in Australia, with approximately one athlete testing positive every month.”

It advised that “no supplement is safe to use and athletes should not risk their careers by taking a supplement,”​ explaining that many supplements have been contaminated but banned substances might not be labelled. 

However, it also recognises the use of supplements under sports dietitians’ recommendation and advises the use of supplements that are screened by independent bodies.

With the ongoing debate, industry body CMA has re-emphasised the safety of Australian made products, while cautioned against the online purchase of overseas products.

In response to NutraIngredients-Asia’s​ queries, Carl Gibson, president of CMA said that “the risk of accidentally taking a banned substance is significant if an athlete buys supplements online.”

He advised athletes to only use supplements from reputable brands bought from reliable stores in Australia.

A CMA statement also added that the confidence in Australian supplements “does not extend to products bought online from overseas.”

The ingredients, warnings, recommendations, contraindications and therapeutic claims are tightly controlled in Australian made complementary medicines.

“But this confidence does not extend to products bought online from overseas. These products are not subject to the same regulations as those enforced in Australia,”​ according to the statement.

Products to avoid

In the event that supplements have to be taken, the ASADA had advised against the use of products made in China, India and the US.

Pre-workout, weight-loss, and muscle-building products are also identified as supplements to avoid as they are at a higher risk of being contaminated with a prohibited substance.

Even products containing plant extracts are also to be avoided.   

On the other hand, Therapeutic Goods Australia (TGA) pointed out that performance and image enhancing drugs – many of which have not been TGA approved – are becoming more prevalent in Australia.

The drugs found in the market include stimulants such as amphetamines and peptide hormones, growth factors and related peptide drugs.

Similar to CMA, it also cautioned consumers against the online purchase of supplements on overseas websites and to look for products with an AUST number, since they are TGA regulated.

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