Nearly 25 Percent Of Supplements Are Contaminated With Steroids, Stimulants, Banned Substances

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According to a new study anti-doping laboratory, approximately one quarter of supplements could be contaminated.

Fifty-eight supplement samples were purchased from popular retail outlets and Internet sites in the United States and sent to HFL*, the world's most experienced anti-doping lab in the field of supplement testing, for analysis. Twenty-five percent of the samples showed the presence of steroid contamination while 11 percent showed the existence of stimulants. Samples were analyzed using a validated and ISO 17025-accredited method developed specifically for the qualitative analysis of supplements and used to detect the presence of low levels of steroid and stimulant contaminants that are considered prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

"Our objective was to follow up on international research that highlighted supplement contamination four years ago to see if this was still an industry issue - and the results of the Informed-Choice study clearly indicate it is, "said Kelly Hoffman, executive director, Informed-Choice. "Our intent is not to 'name and shame' supplement companies because our goal is to work in partnership with the trade to improve products and ensure the safety of athletes and the general public who use supplements."

Hoffman said her organization will be confidentially discussing the results directly with those supplement companies whose products tested positive for contaminants.

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According to David Hall, HFL's chief executive, the majority of the contamination is inadvertent.

"Although some supplement companies are aware of the banned performance- enhancing contents, the majority are not," said Hall. "The levels of contamination are too low to be detected using routine methods, but high enough to possibly generate a positive urine test for an athlete. That's why it is essential that supplement companies perform the proper testing of products to trace levels - using ISO 17025-accredited methods."

Inadvertent contamination can typically occur via the supply of raw materials, the use of ill-defined herbal-based materials, cross-contamination within the manufacturing or packaging process (whether in-house or through third parties), and even through the use of inadequately cleaned equipment.

"The publicity surrounding performance-enhancing substances is gathering more steam at every level of athletics," Hoffman said. "Young athletes are at particular risk because they may have the least information to make responsible choices. With news of new steroid investigations and positive drug tests for banned substances appearing virtually every week, supplement companies are stepping forward and taking a proactive approach to find solutions to what many experts view as an epidemic. We are taking the lead in an industry effort to provide athletes, coaches, trainers and parents with a solution to help them make an 'informed choice' when it comes to taking or recommending a supplement."

Hoffman added, "This is very much a joint effort, and, in addition to supplement companies, we encourage professional athletic organizations, states, academic institutions and other trade associations to join Informed- Choice to help strengthen the integrity of the industry."

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