Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 52 (7), 439-455

IOC Consensus Statement: Dietary Supplements and the High-Performance Athlete


IOC Consensus Statement: Dietary Supplements and the High-Performance Athlete

Ronald J Maughan et al. Br J Sports Med.


Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition programme. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including (1) the management of micronutrient deficiencies, (2) supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and (3) provision of direct benefits to performance or (4) indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can benefit the athlete, but others may harm the athlete's health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation (if an antidoping rule violation results). A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialled in training or simulated competition before being used in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the antidoping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete's health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount; expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before an athlete embarks on supplement use.

Keywords: diet; performance.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Hierarchy of evidence used to establish good practice focused on the issue of nutritional supplements.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Flow chart to guide informed decision making and reducing risk of antidoping rule violation during nutritional supplement use. MD, medical doctors.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Flow chart to guide informed decision making and reducing risk of antidoping rule violation during ergogenic supplement use.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 35 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Bailey RL, Gahche JJ, Lentino CV, et al. Dietary supplement use in the United States, 2003-2006. J Nutr 2011;141:261–6. 10.3945/jn.110.133025 - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Fennell D. Determinants of supplement usage. Prev Med 2004;39:932–9. 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.03.031 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Supplements UNood. Dietary supplement health and education act of 1994. 1994. (accessed 22 Nov 2017).
    1. Maughan RJ, Depiesse F, Geyer H. International Association of Athletics Federations. The use of dietary supplements by athletes. J Sports Sci 2007;25(Suppl 1):S103–13. 10.1080/02640410701607395 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Garthe I, Maughan MRJ. Athletes and Supplements - prevalance and perspectives. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. In Press 2018. - PubMed