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Magazine » March April 2013 Issue » Supplements and Energy Drinks: Should you use them?

Supplements and Energy Drinks: Should you use them?

Jean Barbour

One of the most common inquiries is regarding the use of dietary supplements and energy drinks in and out of competition. Three authoritative websites that have a wealth of information are World Anti-doping Agency (, World DanceSport Federation ( and United States Anti-doping Agency (

Anti-doping authorities find themselves in a difficult situation. "Clean" athletes rely on anti-doping authorities to remove performance-enhancing drug use from their sport, including those performance-enhancing drugs found in certain dietary supplements. We also recognize the dilemma facing athletes. It's not surprising that athletes turn to those who manage their anti-doping programs for direction about dietary supplements. After all, WADA and USADA provide a straightforward directory that allows individuals to find what medications are prohibited and which are not prohibited.

Why isn't there similar advice for dietary supplements and energy drinks? They are regulated differently than medications and there are more than 75,000 products on the market. As a result, it is impossible for any organization to say with 100% confidence what substances a supplement contains. When an athlete or consumer cannot be absolutely certain what their supplement contains, the door is left open for two very real possibilities:

• A positive anti-doping test result
• Negative and potentially dangerous health issues

Energy drinks are different from sports/electrolyte drinks. All of the names for drinks can be confusing. Look closely at the ingredients. If you are drinking something that advertises itself as an Energy Drink, you are probably helping yourself to a hefty dose of stimulants.

To learn more about the supplement and energy drink dilemma, challenging the reasons why risk exists, and reducing the risk, Refer to the site and select "Substances" from the menu bar.
Beware that it is possible for an athlete to follow every one of the steps to ensure that the products they are taking are safe and still test positive for a prohibited substance or fall victim to negative health effects. If you cannot be 100% sure of the ingredients or don't know the status of a substance - DON'T TAKE IT!

Finally here is an excerpt from the document Obligation of Athletes:

"Take responsibility, in the context of Anti-Doping, for what they ingest and use. It's the athlete's own responsibility when certain (forbidden) substances are found in the athlete's samples. That responsibility cannot be transferred to coaches, trainers, medical personnel or any other athlete support personnel or supplier of products used."

4. The Rulebook (USA, DanceSport tab, Athlete Information)