Latest news from Loughborough University
13 September 2011 | PR 11/108
Dietary supplements could make athletes unwitting drugs cheats
Minute levels of banned substances in some dietary supplements are leaving athletes susceptible to failed drugs tests according to Loughborough University Professor of Sport and Exercise Nutrition Ron Maughan.
Professor Maughan, who chairs the Sports Nutrition Group of the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission, has warned of the dangers of commercially available supplements which could turn athletes into unwitting drugs cheats.
He said: “It is now well established that many dietary supplements contain compounds that can cause an athlete to fail a doping test. In some cases the presence of these compounds is not declared on the product label.
“For some prohibited substances, the amount that will trigger a positive test is vanishingly small and may not be detected by routine analysis of the supplement.”
Professor Maughan has raised particular concerns about the presence of the steroid nandrolone (and its metabolic precursors) which are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Maughan and his team investigated athlete responses to trace amounts of a nandrolone precursor (19-norandrostenedione) where subjects ingested either water or a commercial sports bar contaminated with minute levels of the banned substance.
Despite contamination levels 1,000 times lower than concentrations typically scanned for during supplement manufacture, volunteers’ samples still registered a positive doping result for nandrolone.
Professor Maughan added:
“The potential for such low levels of contamination in a sports supplement to result in adverse test results raises significant concerns for the manufacture of dietary supplements intended for consumption by athletes liable to regular doping tests.
“It presents a serious dilemma for sports supplement manufacturers, athletes, and those responsible for the welfare of athletes.”
This week Professor Maughan is presenting at a Science Media Centre briefing on the science of anti-doping testing and at the inaugural event of the Royal Society of Chemistry lecture series - “Athletes, Chemists, Law and Sport – Who’s Really Winning?”.
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Notes for editors:
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.
Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.
It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.