Athletes using sport supplements are more open to doping — study

Media Release:

Athletes using legal performance enhancing and medical sport supplements are more likely to dope than those using sport foods and superfoods, a new study reveals.

While some sport supplements may be necessary for an athlete’s programme, taking ergogenic and medical sport supplements may inadvertently lead to sports people developing favourable attitudes towards doping

Researchers at the University of Birmingham and Canterbury Christ Church University are calling for bespoke anti-doping education for athletes using such supplements to prevent them turning to banned substances.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers surveyed 573 athletes competing at club, country, national and international level about their use of four types of sport supplements:

  • Ergogenic, such as creatine – used to improve performance;
  • Medical, such as iron – used to treat clinical issues and nutrient deficiencies;
  • Sport foods/drinks, such as protein bars – providing a source of nutrients; and
  • Superfoods, such as goji berries – which claim to optimise health and performance.

Publishing their findings in Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, the researchers note that athletes using ergogenic and medical sport supplements to improve performance, through boosting strength and shortening recovery between training sessions can develop the belief that doping is another means to improve performance.

Co-author Christopher Ring, Professor in Psychology at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Our results have important implications for coaches, nutritionists and sport doctors – they must appreciate that athletes who are administered ergogenic and medical sport supplements may develop more favourable attitudes towards doping.

“An athlete using these supplements may come to believe that using chemically active substances is an acceptable way of enhancing sport performance. This belief could then later develop into a rationalisation that doping is just another means to enhance performance.”

Two in five athletes surveyed (42%) used ergogenic supplements, whereas one in five used medical sport supplements (18%) and sport foods and drinks (21%). Superfoods were rarely used (2%). Over half (53%) used at least one sport supplement.

Researchers note that future research such explore how use of one supplement type may lead to another and eventually the use of banned substances – for example, superfood use leads to ergogenic and medical supplement use, which may in turn, lead to doping.

The Fall from Grace of Lance Armstrong

lance armstrong

In 2008, Lance Armstrong came back from retirement life. He continued to brush off doping claims and he informed ESPN he was prepared to have to train harder to remain to compete at an elite level at the age of 37. His very first race back in January 2009, the ‘Tour Down Under’ in South Australia. Of the 127 cyclists that finished the race, Armstrong completed a lackluster 27th.

Regardless of having a hard time in different races– and also still evading claims that he never ever competed in a Tour de France while clean from drugs– Armstrong decided to take part in the 2009 race. Armstrong came in third that year. He was 38 and also had actually been far from professional biking for three years.

Ahead of the 2010 Tour de France, Armstrong stated it would certainly be his last race. Around this time, his previous USA teammate Floyd Landis sent emails to cycling officials describing his use of performance enhancing drugs while racing for the US Postal Service team. Landis also charged Armstrong as well as various other colleagues of doing the very same.

“I want to clear my conscience,” Landis informed ESPN at the time. “I don’t want to belong to the problem anymore.” Still rejecting allegations and declaring there was no proof, Armstrong took part in the 2010 Scenic tour de France months after those Landis emails, coming in 23rd place. Armstrong couldn’t avoid the allegations even when retired. More of his former teammates began to change their silence and in 2011, in a sneak peek of the evidence they will ultimately give versus him in the USA Anti-Doping Agency’s case.

In October 2012, a USADA report naming Armstrong left no question he doped throughout a lot of his professional career. He didn’t dispute the situation, was stripped of all success from August 1998 forward and also ultimately received a life time ban from biking. Ultimately, Armstrong admitted publicly in an meeting with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013. He admitted to doping for every Tour de France he competed in and also won. In April 2018, the lengthy legal roadway ended for both Armstrong and also Landis when they got to a negotiation in Landis’ government whistleblower case, which was sought by the U.S. Division of Justice.