NPA to test sports supplements
that dietary supplements taken by sportspeople may be contaminated
with illegal steroids by extending its TruLabel random testing
program to sports products.
In the past some athletes who have tested positive for banned substances have claimed that they must have come to be in their bodies as a result of taking contaminated dietary supplements. Such accusations, and the media attention that surrounds them, can dent trust in dietary supplements - even though they are usually dropped and the sportsperson ends up taking the suspension.
By randomly testing its members' products, NPA (formerly NNFA) is setting out to assure customers that dietary supplement products contain only what the label says they do.
"The notion that dietary supplements contain unlisted ingredients that are responsible for positive steroid and other banned substance tests is simply wrong. It's unfair to the responsible manufacturers who make these products and the athletes they benefit," said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs for NPA.
Last year the main industry associations (NPA along with the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the American Herbal Products Association) issued a joint call urging athletes to release the names of the products they allege are contaminated, together with the analytical results on which their claims are based.
"The health supplement industry is committed to do what it can to ensure products taken by anyone - whether elite athletes or the common consumer - contain exactly what is stated on the label," said the associations. "But broad allegations against the entire class of products are inaccurate and cannot be tolerated."
There are only a "very limited" number of explanations as to how an unlabeled ingredient might come to be present in a supplement, they said.
At that time NPA David Seckman executive director and CEO expressed doubts as to whether contamination actually occurs at all. But he said the issue is an important one, since several clean sports bills are presently making their way through Congress that may restrict access to products.
NSF International also runs a supplements certification program intended to minimize the risk of products used by athletes containing prohibited substances, which the Canadian Center for Ethics In Sport last week said it would recognize.
NPA's 15-year-old TruLabel exists for the benefit of the industry. Products are not submitted for testing by companies but are selected by the organization, and the results are published on the organization's website.