The role of banned substance residue analysis in the control of dietary supplement contamination

Drug Test Anal. 2010 Sep;2(9):417-20. doi: 10.1002/dta.149.


The potential for contaminated dietary supplements to result in a failed doping test remains a concern for athletes, trainers, and sporting authorities despite improvements to regulatory guidelines. Previous surveys of readily available supplements confirm that many are contaminated with steroids and stimulants prohibited for use in elite sport. Suggested responses to this issue include the complete avoidance of all supplements. Many athletes, however, use nutritional supplements to achieve effective training and also to ensure that daily nutritional requirements are met (e.g. recommended levels of vitamins and minerals). This ensures that the use of supplements is and will remain the norm for a range of sports. As a result, an alternative approach of rigorous testing of materials destined for use by elite athletes has been introduced in several countries. While the testing of final product for banned substances may help mitigate the problem, it will not help to remove the underlying issue of contamination. In this article we describe an alternative approach that uses appropriate quality assurance procedures backed up by testing to remove sources of contamination. The decrease in the incidence of contamination amongst supplement companies adopting such a system is explained, and contrasted with the relatively high incidences of contamination found in products that are not part of a quality system. These findings are of key importance to both supplement manufacturers and those involved in advising athletes about supplement use.

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Dietary Supplements / standards*
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Drug Contamination*
  • Drug Residues / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Quality Control