In an interview with the FIFA website Professor Jiri Dvorak said that food supplement use is widespread among footballers, particularly young ones, but claimed scientific evidence about the performance-enhancing effects were lacking.
“Around 35% of all players are regularly taking food supplements,” he said, based upon data from the last four World Cups.
“But the more surprising fact is that almost 50% of the U-17 and U-20 players at World Cup level are also taking supplements.”
“We know that about 60% of U-16 athletes in the USA are using nutritional supplements daily. This is definitely not based upon the scientific evidence or literature, which says the opposite, that any of the food supplements, except in certain medical conditions, will improve your performance.”
Dvorak added that it was “alarming” that the vast majority of young athletes did not consult a nutritional specialist physician before taking the supplements and simply believed it would boost their performance.
“Scientists and nutritional specialists agree that a well-balanced diet will supply the body with the appropriate amount of nutrients it needs for top performance,” he continued.
According to Dvorak, most dietary supplements are not subject to quality control and manufacturers are therefore not obliged to disclose the full contents despite measures from official authorities, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US.
FIFA issues warning to players
He called on authorities to subject food supplements to quality control as many are contaminated with anabolic steroids and other substances that could cause athletes to fail drug tests, he claimed.
“FIFA has issued a serious warning to football players not to take any food supplements that have not been passed by national drug and food administrations,” he said.
NutraIngredients.com has contacted industry bodies for reaction.
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