With the supplement industry growing and the guidelines around drug testing athletes getting tighter, everyone from the general public to the elite sportsman now takes a strong interest in what is in their supplements, and rightly so. Here at Cardiff Sports Nutrition, we are just as concerned as you. We want to know exactly what is in the products we’re selling, so we can be 100% confident that we are recommending the best supplements to the right people, and giving the very best advice. So let's begin this article on drug tested supplements. Brands such as Reflex Nutrition, MusclePharm and SciVation have gone that extra mile to ensure that their customer base is aware of their drug tested status.
In a competitive industry, these companies feel that putting in that extra bit of work to reassure their customers of the safety of their products is well worth the effort. We got in contact with ‘Informed-Sport’ that specialise in the quality and reassurance of supplement production to ask a few questions to get a better understanding of the drug testing and anti-doping protocols of the modern day supplement industry. Thanks to Anthony Broom from Informed Sports that took the time to sit down and answer a few questions for us.
Who is Informed Sport? Why and how were you started? Could we have a little bit of back ground?
The Informed-Sport programme is operated by the World recognised sports anti-doping laboratory, HFL Sport Science. HFL has been carrying out anti-doping testing for 50 years, and was a WADA accredited laboratory between 2004-7. HFL has been testing supplements on behalf of reputable manufacturers since 2002 and Informed Sport have tested over 35000 samples since that time.
The service was started as there was a need for supplement companies to have their products tested, as athletes needed some form of assurance that the products they were taking were not contaminated with a substance prohibited in sport. Supplement contamination and potential 'inadvertent doping' had become a major issue for athletes, so athletes wanted to use tested products to ensure they were safer to use. Since 2002 this type of testing has grown in popularity amongst reputable supplement brands. Currently, HFL Sport Science test over 5,000 sports supplement samples a year, for over 170 supplement companies in 16 countries worldwide.
In 2008 the Informed-Sport programme was launched under the guidance of top sporting authorities and the supplement industry, providing a programme that would be seen as the gold standard in supplement quality assurance. The Informed-Sport programme is a quality assurance programme for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities. The programme certifies that all nutritional supplements and/or ingredients that bear the Informed-Sport logo have been tested for banned substances by the world class sports anti-doping lab, HFL Sport Science.
Athletes choosing to use supplements can use the search function on the Informed-sport.com website to find products that have been through this rigorous certification process.
What is the basic process that a supplement such as a pre-workout formula would go through?
Supplements looking to register with the Informed-Sport programme go through a rigorous registration process: Supplement companies must go through an in depth audit of all manufacturing processes, identifying any risks there may be, with the manufacturing processes, that could cause a contamination risk.
Along with the audit, the company must undertake pre-registration testing on a number of samples for each product they wish to register. Once registered supplement companies must test all batches of the registered products before release into the market. In addition, 'blind samples' are also purchased at random from retail outlets and are tested as an independent integrity check.This provides athletes with full assurance that the product registered with Informed-Sport is a product they can trust.
What is the main type of supplements that go through drug testing?
We have all forms of supplements (bars, drinks, capsules/tablets, powders etc...) go through the testing. Any reputable supplement company aims to have their products registered and certified.
When testing supplements that are used by the general public & athletes alike, what are the main things that could possibly show up and be considered a ‘banned substance’?
There is really no way in telling what would specifically show up as a banned substance, we have a variety of substances show up. HFL test for a broad range of steroids, stimulants, diuretics, drugs of abuse etc... that are prohibited in sport by WADA (World anti-doping agency).
Do non-banned substances ever show up to resemble those that are banned?
This is unlikely - the technology we use is very sensitive and very diagnostic. A 'false positive' is an unlikely occurrence.
Are there different levels of how ‘banned’ a substance can be?
No, the WADA list sets out what substances are banned.
And do different sports have different regulations and rules?
Yes, in general, the majority of sports around the world follow the guidelines of WADA but there a few sports where the regulations are different such as the MLB and the NFL.