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Do athletes need supplements?

Many athletes believe they need dietary supplements to perform at their best, but this trust in supplements is undeserved. While it’s true that some supplements can be helpful in some circumstances, people regularly overestimate their benefits and safety. Many use them without understanding the supplement industry or talking to a dietitian, and they instead rely on advertisements and labeling. However, people can’t trust what many supplements claim to contain or deliver because of ineffective regulation of the supplement industry.

How to manage supplement risks

There is no guarantee that any supplement product is free from banned substances and athletes must be fully aware of the risks to their career if they chose to use a supplement product. Products can become contaminated with prohibited substances during the manufacturing process. An important principle of the Code is strict liability, which states that athletes are solely responsible for any prohibited substances in their system, regardless of how it got there and if there was an intention to cheat. Before taking supplements, athletes must therefore assess the need, risk and consequences to their careers.

Important provision

All athletes must undertake thorough internet research prior to using any supplement product. This is a WADA Code requirement.

Not knowing is not an excuse. If you test positive, it will be for you to prove how the banned substance entered your system.

The ingredient labelling on products can be inaccurate. Be wary of fake supplement products, especially when buying over the internet.

WADA, Qatar Anti-Doping or any other anti-doping organization is not able to endorse or approve supplement products, and any product claiming it is ‘safe for athletes to take’ should be used with extreme caution. If a company claims their product has been approved and/or certified by WADA or Qatar Anti-Doping, this statement is inaccurate.

Always seek advice from a qualified medical professional to determine whether you need to use a supplement.

Even if you chose to use a supplement product, only use batch-tested supplement products to minimize your risks of contamination. Make sure you check the actual batch numbers prior to use.


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