Sports Supplements sold in New Zealand Could Unintentionally Test Positive for Doping

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News has been blasting around the OCR community – a competitor at this year’s OCR World Championships was disqualified for violating their anti-doping policy!

2017 Obstacle Course Racing World Championships competitor Ryan Woods forfeited his third-place finish in the 15K Championship and his team was disqualified from the Pro Team Race after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance and violating the OCR World Championships Anti-Doping Policy.

Mr. Woods offered the following statement:

“I am in a state of shock and disgust. I would like to say I had no intention of taking a banned substance nor would I knowingly compete in an event with WADA testing while using banned substances. With that said, I understand that I alone am responsible for what I put into my body. I took a supplement purchased at a grocery store called DHEA, which is a banned substance on the WADA list. In my mind, I thought I was purchasing DHA, which is omega 3’s. I had ample opportunity to correct this mistake by simply looking at a label or going to the WADA website, but I never did. Instead, I packed it away in my vitamins and took it all weekend at the OCR World Championships. I am ashamed and embarrassed at my current situation of my own doing. I would like to apologize to my friends Ryan Atkins and Hunter McIntyre. I have let you guys down. I have robbed you of an incredible moment. I hope one day you guys can forgive me, even though I know I will never forgive myself. I would also like to apologize to Adrian Bijanada for putting him and his event I love in this situation. I praise him though, for his work for a drug-free sport and despite my current circumstances, I hope efforts for a drug-free sport only grow. I apologize to anyone and everyone affected directly or indirectly by my actions”.

The issue of drug testing in obstacle racing has been under discussion for some time, but this recent case marks the first time in OCR that an athlete has been stripped of a medal for failing a drug test.

What do you need to know about supplements and drug testing in New Zealand?

A recent 2017 study found that six sports supplements sold in New Zealand and Australia contain anabolic steroids. These can cause potential health risks and athletes could run the risk of testing positive on doping tests.

One hundred and sixteen sports supplements were tested in the study. Out of those, six of them tested positive for an androgen, even though on the label there was no androgen declared. Androgens are a type of anabolic steroid that promote bone and muscle strength – and pose a health risk, including liver damage, acne, aggressive mood swings and endocrine cancer, even heart disease.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand’s advice to athletes and gym goers is, if you don’t know what’s in your supplement, don’t take the risk.

Drug Free Sport NZ’s advice regarding supplements references similar studies:

  • A 2014 UK study of 24 supplements (chosen because they appeared to be anabolic agents due to the name of the product, the ingredients listed, or the nature of their advertising) found that 23 of them contained anbolic steriods.
  • Another study funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001 of nutritional supplements found that of the 600-plus supplements tested, 15 per cent contained steroids or related compounds which were not listed on the label.
  • In 2016, an Australian survey found that out of 69 pre-workout supplements randomly tested off the shelf, 19 per cent contained substances prohibited in sport.

According to Drug Free Sport NZ, a significant number of positive tests in recent years have been as a result of prohibited substances found in supplements.

Drug Free Sport NZ advises caution for athletes taking supplements:

  • supplements could contain substances which are banned in sport
  • supplements may not have adequate quality control or accurately label ingredients so you cannot be sure of exactly what’s in them.
  • supplements frequently do not provide the benefits they claim.

Drug Free Sport NZ advises athletes to be extremely wary about products which say they can help with weight loss, building muscle or providing energy because these are more likely to contain banned substances.

Don’t let it happen to you

A scandal over banned performance-enhancing substances is not something we’ve seen in OCR in New Zealand. No homegrown races currently drug test their contestants, but if the sport of obstacle racing grows in New Zealand and more Kiwi athletes compete internationally in championship races such as the OCR World Championships, World’s Toughest Mudder and the Spartan Race World Championships, New Zealand athletes will need to be aware that what happened to Ryan Woods could potentially happen to them.

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