The Risks of Supplement Use

A common misconception about supplements is that they are a replacement for food or even superior to food. This is not true. Supplements are not a shortcut to good nutrition. If you’re eating well and getting the balance of nutrients and energy you need, it’s likely that using supplements is unnecessary.
As an athlete, if you are considering taking supplements you need to be aware that there are risks associated with supplement use:

Athletes must ensure that they fully understand the risks associated with supplement use and how to minimize these risks:

  • Supplements that are not batch-tested increase the risk of inadvertent doping.
  • Athletes must undertake thorough research before using a supplement.

If you are an athlete and consider using a supplement, complete these steps first:

  • Look at your diet and make any changes needed;
  • If no results are achieved, speak to a medical professional and have a nutritional assessment;
  • If the medical professional has determined that a supplement is required for health purposes, research thoroughly and find a batch-tested product;
  • Only buy a batch-tested product that has the same manufacturing reference or label as the batch certificate.

If after completing the above steps you do decide to use a supplement:

  • First, keep in mind that, whether you intended to cheat or not, if a prohibited substance is found in your system, even as a result of taking a supplement, or following the recommendation of a medical professional, you are responsible (strict liability);
  • Keep a small amount of the supplement - if you test positive, you at least have the option of having your leftover sample scientifically tested to see if it was contaminated;
  • Keep the batch-test certificate;
  • Keep the proof of purchase, like a receipt;
  • Keep a log of when and how much you take.

The above is only a brief summary intended for your awareness. For a deeper understanding of the risks of supplements use and how (and to which extent) you can manage this risk, please take one of the following courses: