A group of the world's nutrition experts met at the International Olympic Committee's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, this week to discuss nutrition in sports.
The conference, which reviewed the latest developments in the world of sports nutrition, drew up guidelines to help athletes and coaches to optimise their performance by using nutrition to support training and maximise performance in competition.
Conclusions about the use of supplements were vague and far from positive for the industry however. Frankie Fredericks, who participated in the conference as athletes' representative, said: "The important thing that came out from the conference is that athletes need to be very careful of the kind of nutrition supplements they take. I am hoping that the scientists can give us more information about which supplements can or cannot be used and that the document that comes out from the conference can be as self explanatory as possible to help athletes on how to best use nutrition."
In recent years the IOC Medical Commission has shown increasing concern about positive results that could be linked to the use of nutritional supplements. It claims that the insufficient regulation concerning these in certain countries, including the USA, has led the committee to intervene, issuing warnings on several occasions to alert athletes, and approaching various government bodies to introduce quality controls on supplements.
The IOC has also recently published a study, investigating a large number of samples of hormone supplements, which it claims 'confirms the scale of the problem'. It says it will continue urging athletes to avoid using these nutritional supplements.
The consensus statement produced by the committee also emphasised the importance of diet, emphasising that a varied diet can provide all necessary nutrients. On supplements the statement said: "Athletes contemplating the use of supplements and sports foods should consider their efficacy, their cost, the risk to health and performance, and the potential for a positive doping test."