Extreme caution is recommended regarding supplement use and the IFF rather recommends a “food-first” approach.

What is a supplement?

  • Supplements are manufactured products likes pills, capsules, powders, gels, drinks and bars that contain nutrients, herbs, amino acids or other substances that can affect the body.
  • Typically, available over-the-counter and meant to “supplement” the diet.
  • A thorough “needs analysis” and “risks analysis” should be done prior to use.

Why is supplement use a concern?

  • Unlike medications, which are produced to very thorough regulatory standards (can check ingredients against the Prohibited List), the manufacturing standards for supplements are less thorough.
  • While nutritional supplements are generally marketed as being healthy, taking supplements can prove risky as sometimes they can contain a prohibited substance. There are three main reasons why this can happen:
    1. The manufacturer failed to list the substance on the label
    2. The manufacturer listed the substance using a different name
    3. Cross contamination occurred during the manufacturing process.
  • Neither WADA or the IFF is involved in any supplement certification process and therefore do not certify or endorse manufacturers or their products. WADA and the IFF do not control the quality of the claims of the supplement industry.

In the below WADA Talks video the dietary supplements expert, Professor Ron Maughan, to discuss supplements and their associated risks.


Useful resources:

  • Informed-sport.com – A quality assurance programme for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities.


IFF wishes to warn athletes about the risk associated with supplements and has produced a video which raises the issue: