WATCH: Does sports nutrition still have an image issue?

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

While the sports nutrition market continues to blossom in the wider consumer marketplace, a small number of elite-level athletes continue to suggests 'dodgy' supplements are to blame for failed doping tests. In our latest Nutra video diary we asked a panel of experts at the recent Sports Nutrition Congress 2018 whether sports nutrition continues to have image issues, or whether a new dawn has broken in the category.

Whether to blame or not, sports supplements have been long linked to doping scandals at the elite end of the sporting spectrum. Whether to blame or not, the harm done has been big. 

Further down the performance pyramid, the recent DMAA debacle, and regular reports of sports supplements and bodybuilding bulk powders laced with illicit substances have done perhaps even greater harm - both to people​, and to the image of sports nutrition. 

On the flip side, the more mainstream sports nutrition industry has flourished in recent years, as brands break out of their old niches and look to appeal to wider audiences in the 'active nutrition' market.

In our latest video diary we asked a panel of experts at the

"I think the problem that we have is that there are a small number of rogue players which make products which are not really food supplements - not sports nutrition products. And they are still associated with the industry,​" commented managing director of Hylobates Consulting, Luca Bucchini.

"This is the problem, people think sports nutrition and still associate - to some extent - doping with our industry,"​ he said. "This is not accurate, if you look at the data. But we have to break that association."

Meanwhile, ESSNA vice-chair noted that recent positive press has helped propel the industry to a wider consumer base than ever before.

"Recently, we've had a lot of good press and that's proven by the fact that the sports nutrition industry is now going very mainstream compared to what it used to,"​ Gilbert said.

"The golden hope was that one day the industry would be able to break into the mainstream and sell way more products to mums and weekend worriers than they did to bodybuilders and hardcore fitness people - and now we're there."

Tom Evans product manager at SCI-MX added that the vast majority of manufacturers are very responsible, and must follow very strict rules on both what can be in a product and what can be said about a product.

"You're kind of limited about what you can say on pack, to be able to make really big statements that aren't true. So I think that for any of the major sports nutrition brands you're not really seeing anything out there that is deceptive,"​ Evans commented.

"We've just got to be very honest and very transparent and really work on making sure we're creating products with really high efficacy ... and just be honest about what's in there."

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