Now with backing from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), international anti-doping laboratory LGC is moving to test nutritional supplements for prohibited substances Down Under.
LGC is already involved in testing sports nutrition products for ingredients prohibited by the World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) in Britain, the US and other countries, but now it has the support of Australia’s high-performance sports agency, it can begin marketing its services in the country.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia, LGC’s Terence O’Rorke said that the backing was essential for it to move into a sports environment that has had its fair share of doping scandals.
Systematic vs. accidental doping
Last year, a lengthy investigation by the Australian Crime Commission called the use of banned drugs in Australian professional sport “widespread”, and found a number of sports were affected by systematic doping.
But while organised doping is an unfortunate industry in itself, many unsuspecting sportspeople can find themselves on the wrong side of a drugs charge simply by inadvertently taking a supplement that contains a banned ingredient, said O’Rorke, who previously worked for Wada.
“The reality is that athletes at all levels take supplements—from professional footballers to those who see sport as recreational. That is fact. What they need are products that they know are clean and do not contain prohibited substances. This matters as much for recreational athletes as it does for the elite.
“There is no point ignoring the use of supplements, or trying to stop it, and this is why we are seeing more and more anti-doping authorities and sports bodies choosing rather to educate their stakeholders on how to manage the risks.”
LGC’s Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice testing programmes seek to minimise risk and promote clean sport by providing a solution to the issue of inadvertent doping through the use of contaminated sports nutrition.
The company has been working with Australian sport and anti-doping authorities, as well as several leading brands, over the last few months in bid to find the best solution for inadvertent doping in the country.
With AIS backing, LGC has now set up programmes for the Australian sporting environment while “identifying the products that are high priority for auditing and communicating support for brands and products that have been appropriately audited”.
“As an elite athlete you have to be extremely careful about taking sports supplements because there is a genuine risk of contamination–that has been known for some time,” said Louise Burke of the AIS.
“The sports nutrition industry is trying to deal with the issue of contamination and we have been greatly encouraged by the initial interest from Australia. Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice are rigorous, risk management programmes that provide the best solution for the risk of contamination.”
Research conducted on brands in the US, Britain, Europe and other parts of the world in the last decade have shown that more than 10% of untested products are contaminated with some form of steroid or stimulant.
Later this year, LGC will be conducting a survey of sports nutrition products available in Australia to find out if contamination reflects levels found elsewhere in the world.