The Hungarian Anti-Doping Group, HUNADO, has received a great number of questions and requests to form expert opinion, from the point of view of doping, about the safety of regular consumption of dietary and food supplements produced for athletes.
Taking food supplements is, unfortunately, a worldwide problem.
In Hungary, there are no regulations about the retail and testing for doping of the special dietary and food supplements for athletes, there is no information about the number or ingredients of these products, as these products do not need to be reported at the national authority, the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition, for permit. We have to add that the producers/retailers may decide about what category they will sell their product within by choosing their brand names, therefore some products containing dangerous ingredients will escape the scrutiny of experts and the control of authorities. As it can be seen from the above mentioned facts it is possible to produce and sell food supplements without control easily, therefore the use of food supplements may imply a great risk for top athletes. This is not only a problem at home but all over the world, and countries fighting doping are all looking for a solution for it.
The Hungarian Anti-Doping Group fully supports that a production firm should only be able to supply the Hungarian national or Olympic teams with its products, and its products should only be put on the list of products carrying little risk of doping if it keeps the regulations concerning production and the purchase of ingredients, therefore the raw materials should be purchased from controlled and safe sources, with minimal risk of contamination; the producer/retailer should have an appropriate system of quality control; it should take the responsibility for its products containing the ingredients indicated on their boxes and online descriptions; and it should finance the testing of each product by a production number in an accredited laboratory. However, forcing these conditions is beyond our possibilities with the current legal legislation.
According to the World Anti-Doping Organization (WADA):
An appropriate diet covers the needs of athletes, therefore the use of food supplements is only recommended under medical supervision, in such conditions of deficiency which are supported by physicians’ opinions. WADA does not recommend the use of food supplements as they might contain substances from the prohibited list, which are not indicated in several cases, and therefore may lead to positive doping control results.
It should be added that WADA-accredited laboratories are not allowed to analyse food supplementary products, except if the tests are carried out on behalf of the National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO), or as a part of anti-doping activities.
Testing of food supplements may be carried out by laboratories with appropriate ISO qualifications (there is no WADA accreditation concerning this activity), however, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that each test is only valid about the compounds specified for the testing and indicated by the Certificate, for boxes with the specific product number, before the expiration date.
As it can be seen from the above mentioned facts, no expert opinion, any kind of guarantee, or official sport permit may be issued for any food or diet supplementary products developed for athletes, by any National Anti-Doping Organizations of the world, as it is the principle of the WADA Code that “it is each athlete's personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his/her body”.
All in all, we would like to help Hungarian athletes because we can feel the difficulty, lack of transparency and threat of the situation, and if we cannot take responsibility for their decisions we will try to assist them by gathering and passing on information about the products. – Please, submit your questions together with the references of the products, if possible, indicating the relevant website as well. According to our experience, the producers may change the composition of the product without changing its name. We have found several products under the same name on the internet with and without prohibited ingredients.
We would like to state that we are unable to claim the efficiency or biological effectiveness of any products. The Hungarian Anti-Doping Group-HUNADO only gives expert opinion about food supplements according to their role in doping, relating to the current position of the ingredients on the Prohibited List of WADA. Concerning individual requests we search international databases in order to find out, on the basis of available information given and indicated by the producer/retailer, if the requested product contains prohibited ingredients. As looking through international databases - WADA newsletters, websites of laboratories carrying out testing of food supplements, the websites of international authorities of medical supervision – may be a time-consuming, detailed and responsible task, and as we are receiving an immense number of questions and requests we would kindly ask everybody interested for their patience and understanding, as we shall reply them to the best of our knowledge.
However, we would like to draw every athlete’s attention to the fact that the Hungarian Anti-Doping Group- HUNADO is unable to take responsibility either for the products, or for the producing/retailing firms, therefore the products may only be taken at your own responsibility.