Nutritional supplements

Nutritional supplements are food products designed to supplement the normal diet of a healthy person. However, nutritional supplements may contain prohibited substances and, consequently, using them has resulted in anti-doping rule violations. FINCIS cannot guarantee whether nutritional supplements are considered to contain doping agents or not.

Pure nutritional supplements do not typically enhance performance if the athlete’s diet is varied and contains an adequate amount of vitamins and micronutrients. Energy drinks and protein products may be used to replace normal food items, especially after training, to boost recovery and ensure adequate energy and protein intake. 

Nutritional supplements and doping agents

The use of nutritional supplements involves a risk of committing an anti-doping rule violation, as they may contain substances prohibited in sports, such as stimulants, anabolic steroids, compounds that boost the secretion of growth hormone and diuretics, commonly as either impurities or intentional additives. 

When nutritional supplements are used, the following things should be considered: 

  • Prohibited substances may be listed on the labelling.
  • The product may contain prohibited substances which are not listed on the labelling.
  • The products may include prohibited substances as impurities.
  • Only a small amount of the ingredients of products that contain plant extracts are known.

The compositions of nutritional supplements are not controlled like the components of medicine. Because of this, FINCIS cannot guarantee whether nutritional supplements are considered to contain doping agents or not. This also applies to homeopathic products and other non-medicinal products.

Nutritional supplements that involve the highest risks

If an athlete uses nutritional supplements, they must carefully consider whether there are reasonable grounds for using the supplements that cannot be remedied by adjusting their diet. If an athlete must use a nutritional supplement, they must check the list of prohibited substances to see whether any prohibited substances are listed in the ingredients of the nutritional supplement in question. Even if a prohibited substance is not listed on the labelling of a nutritional supplement, the responsibility always lies with the athlete in the event of an adverse analytical finding. Micronutrients, vitamin products and other nutritional supplements should be selected from the range of products offered by a reliable manufacturer and bought from a reliable supplier, for instance, from a pharmacy. 

Although the safety of nutritional supplements can never be fully guaranteed, the following products must be carefully avoided:

  • The product is not specified to be nutritionally important but it is advertised to
    • improve performance,
    • increase the effects of training,
    • increase muscle strength,
    • increase hormone levels or
    • improve the metabolism of fats.
  • The product’s ingredients are not listed or known.
  • The product is advertised to contain
    • hormone precursors or “boosters” (DHEA, androstenedione),
    • selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs such as LGD-4033, andarine),
    • stimulating compounds (ephedrine, amfetamine derivatives such as DMAA, DMBA),
    • compounds that accelerate the secretion of growth hormone (ghrelin mimetics, hexarelin, GHRP, GHRP-2 etc.) or
    • fat metabolism boosters (β2-agonists such as clenbuterol, higenamine or other sympathomimetics).
  • The scientific names of the ingredients include 
    • prefixes andro-, epi, epithio-, gonado, 17α-, 17β- or 
    • suffixes -diol, -dione, -stene or -stane.
  • The route of administration of a nutritional supplement is other than oral.
  • The product is acquired from a foreign supplier online.

Same caution as with nutritional supplements should be applied in the case of homeopathic products and other non-medicinal products. 

FINCIS does not analyse the compositions of nutritional supplements

It is not possible to analyse the chemical compositions of nutritional supplements through FINCIS. An athlete who wishes to have a substance analysed must select the analysing laboratory and contact the seller or importer of the product. It is important to note that commercial laboratories do not typically have the capacity for analysing all prohibited substances and that there may be differences in compositions between different batches of the same product. In the event of an adverse analytical finding, however, the responsibility always lies with the athlete.

News letter illustration

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribing to the FINCIS mailing list ensures that you will always have current information about FINCIS’ activities and ethically sustainable sports culture in your inbox. You may also unsubscribe from the newsletter.

E-mail address

Please note! If you are a member of the press or a representative of a sports federation, please subscribe to a specific mailing list designed for your organisation instead of the general FINCIS list. This ensures that you will always receive information about events and current affairs that concern you. Send your name, email address and the name of your media company or sports federation and your position to the FINCIS Communication Manager.