In light of numerous recent positive anti-doping tests tied to supplements containing undeclared prohibited substances, USADA would like to remind athletes and support personnel that ALL DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS pose some level of anti-doping risk for athletes. This is true even for products that don’t exhibit any “Red Flags” and therefore appear to be low risk.
Unlike medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary supplements, such as vitamins and multi-vitamins, are regulated in a post-market manner. As such, the FDA does not analyze the safety, efficacy, or label accuracy of supplements before they are sold to consumers. This means that supplement manufacturers could knowingly or unknowingly sell illegal or tainted products while marketing them as multi-vitamins or another product that seems equally harmless.
Here are a few examples of manufacturers that have marketed seemingly low-risk vitamin and electrolyte supplements that contained dangerous and prohibited anabolic agents:
USADA strongly encourages athletes who choose to use supplements, despite the risks, to reduce their risk as much as possible by only using products certified by a reputable third party, and avoiding products that exhibit red flags. But unfortunately, NO AMOUNT of research or due diligence will guarantee a product is safe. Furthermore, no organization, including USADA, a third-party testing agency, or other service, can 100 percent guarantee that a supplement is safe for your health and free of prohibited substances.
The only way to have zero risk is to use zero supplements. If you choose to use dietary supplements, then you assume all the risks inherent to the supplement industry.
These risks are laid out in detail on Supplement411.org. For an overview, please watch “Decoding the Supplement Industry.” As always, athletes are strictly liable for the substances they ingest, including those consumed through dietary supplements. If you have questions, please contact USADA’s Drug Reference Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (719) 785-2000 (ext. 2).