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What is a Supplement?
A supplement is a designed to compliment a normal balanced diet and include nutrients you would normally get through your diet. Supplements can come in all sorts of forms such as pills, powders, sachets or liquids.
Why is it a Risk for Athletes to Take Them?
All athletes are advised to evaluate the need for supplements and know the risks involved with them. This is because they may contain banned substances which can result in a positive drug test. The way supplements are produced also means that they can become contaminated during the manufacturing process, and globally, standards differ in terms of the quality of the produce, its manufacturing process and the product labelling – e.g. it may list its ingredients differently to how they would appear on the Prohibited List. Although they may appear fine on the ingredients label there are no guarantees that any supplement product is free from prohibited substances, meaning caution should be taken, especially when buying over the internet and from outside the UK.
What is UKAD’s Advice?
At your stage in your sporting career, UKAD suggests taking advice from your Doctor or a nutritionist if you have access to one – if you don’t then contact your NGB. They can talk to you about how to get the best performance from your diet before you need to supplement it. Most nutritionists would agree that a balanced diet incorporating principles of sports nutrition should be sufficient to meet the energy demands of any physical activity. At this stage in your career, we would advise athletes to alter their diet, training and rest strategies and hydration routines rather than resort to supplements as you are still maturing.