While cruising the ‘net for information on the ‘criminalized’ athlete whose doping activity has either harmed or advanced their careers, I came across Canadian bobsleigh athlete tests positive for steroids (CBC, Feb, 2008). Although Bobsled pilot Serge Despres contests he never knowingly ingested any performance-enhancing drugs or banned substances, he was banned from competing- or training for 20 months due to the consumption of a single contaminated supplement.
Unfortunately, this case is not an anomaly. In 2001, the IOC lab tested 634 supplements from around the world and found that some were incomplete or inaccurately labelled. For instance, more than 25 per cent of the supplements collected in The Netherlands yielded positive tests for banned substances undisclosed on the packaging. An yet, in light of these findings, Despres’ ban for an infinitely small positive – less than a single nanogram of steroids – was not revoked.
What can an athlete do to ensure that the supplements they require to support an intensely active, rigorous and demanding training program are contaminate-free?
Currently, a company called NSF International provides a Safe for Sport Certification analysis program, whereby manufacturers submit nutritional supplements to be tested up to 130 banned substances on the World Anti-Doping Association’s drug list before they are consumed by athletes.
NSF Certified for Sport Product list available here, and includes such Canadian-made products as:
Even though Despres’ 2010 Winter Olympic podium dreams have been publicly and humiliatingly crushed, he has used the situation to become part of the solution. In April he helped launch the Clean Sport Initiative sponsored by Platinum Naturals, to campaign for increased knowledge and information on supplements approved by the NSF. Help support Despres’ cause and join the Facebook group: Clean Sport Initiative.