Monday, February 6, 2017



After a few recent doping violations were handed down in triathlon, both from by supplement use, it made me really think about supplements.  What am I taking? What are others taking? What is really in them and how do you know if they are possibly tainted.

The two sanctions that were recently imposed by WTC  were for Ostarine, also known as MK-2866 is a SARM (selective androgen receptor module) created by GTx to avoid and treat muscle wasting. 

These 2 women both have compelling defenses, passed polygraphs and in my opinion inadvertently ingested the supplement due to cross contamination.

While it is easy to assume that an inadvertent anti-doping rule violation can only happen to someone else, anyone that uses supplements is at risk, even after taking recommended precautionary steps.  Many of the comments on Slowtwitch say just this – the ONLY way to be sure you are not taking a banned substance is to not take any supplements.  No risk there…. but what is a supplement?  Salt tabs are supplements….so here it gets a bit dicey.

The ones that are red flags are dietary and nutritional supplements.  These are defined as products containing “dietary ingredients” intended to supplement the diet. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals, herbs, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues and glandular, metabolites, and other dietary supplements.   
Here is a helpful link on the WADA  site.   “Learn to recognize Red Flags”. Watch out for claims like “newest scientific breakthrough” or statements like “secret formula,” “money back guarantee,” “quick fix,” “used for thousands of years,” or “what the experts don’t want you to know”, or the use of impressive sounding scientific jargon – there maybe something in the supplement that is banned.  By using the word proprietary blend, they can add some PED (performance enhancing drug) not label it and no wonder your new energy supplement works wonders. 

Triathletes in general are always looking for something to make them leaner, faster, stronger and it is tempting to fall for the “miracle supplement” that will increase your power, raise your V02 max etc.… Certainly a pill is easier than mile repeats on the track or V02 max intervals on the trainer.... 

Keep in mind there can be health risks associated with nutritional supplement use, and second, even if you “unknowingly are taking a banned substance” anti-doping rule violations may occur.

Pay attention to where your supplements are manufactured.  In many countries, the manufacturing of dietary supplements is not appropriately regulated by the government. Even in the US there is little government regulation on the supplement industry.   Keep in mind every supplement manufacturer does not own the manufacturing facility.  If they run their pills on machines that just ran a banned substance your pill may tainted.  Is that enough to test positive, not sure, but why risk it.

I have read that as many as 20 percent of supplements available to athletes can contain ingredients that are not declared on the label.  Therein lies the risk.  Anyone who tests positive for a banned substance will likely have to deal with the anti-doping process, regardless of how the substance got in their body – knowingly or unknowingly.

This also goes for prescribed drugs.  Any female over 45 likely has low DHEA and Testosterone.  I certainly do and my Dr did not blink an eye in trying to give me prescription for both. When I explained that I am a competitive athlete and cannot take either, she said but “it’s for medical reasons” I explained further and she was dismayed, she had no idea.   A friend recently looked up her prescribed acne mediation and found one of the ingredients is banned.  Look it up WADA  Hit control F and type the drug/ingredients in the search box, if it comes up, you cannot legally take it. 

There are exceptions and if you must take that drug you can file a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption)  Athletes may have illnesses or conditions that require them to take particular medications.  If the 
medication an athlete is required to take to treat an illness or condition happens to fall under the Prohibited List, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) may give that athlete the authorization to take the needed medicine.

So who gets tested…. clearly the Professionals do and some top age groupers as well.  So if you are a MOP (middle of the packer) reading this, thinking this does not apply to me, you are wrong-  it applies to everyone, whether you are tested or not.  It’s about playing fair.  That is like saying you should not be given drafting penalties because you are in 20th place in your AG.  Rule are rules.

AND this is your health. Focus on whole foods, all colors of fruit and vegetables, natural protein, bone broth and pro-biotics. With a proper diet, supplements are not necessary.  
Recap of helpful links  

Bottom line: Eliminate the risk.  The risks associated with supplementation are clear and the responsibility for assuming these risks ultimately rests with the individual triathlete  

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