Dietary Supplement and Food Contaminations and Their Implications for Doping Controls

Dietary Supplement and Food Contaminations and Their Implications for Doping Controls / Katja Walpurgis, Andreas Thomas, Hans Geyer, Ute Mareck, Mario Thevis. - (Foods 9 (2020) 8 (27 July); p. 1-21)

  • PMID: 32727139
  • DOI: 10.3390/foods9081012


A narrative review with an overall aim of indicating the current state of knowledge and the relevance concerning food and supplement contamination and/or adulteration with doping agents and the respective implications for sports drug testing is presented. The identification of a doping agent (or its metabolite) in sports drug testing samples constitutes a violation of the anti-doping rules defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Reasons for such Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) include the intentional misuse of performance-enhancing/banned drugs; however, also the scenario of inadvertent administrations of doping agents was proven in the past, caused by, amongst others, the ingestion of contaminated dietary supplements, drugs, or food. Even though controversial positions concerning the effectiveness of dietary supplements in healthy subjects exist, they are frequently used by athletes, anticipating positive effects on health, recovery, and performance. However, most supplement users are unaware of the fact that the administration of such products can be associated with unforeseeable health risks and AAFs in sports. In particular anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) and stimulants have been frequently found as undeclared ingredients of dietary supplements, either as a result of cross-contaminations due to substandard manufacturing practices and missing quality controls or an intentional admixture to increase the effectiveness of the preparations. Cross-contaminations were also found to affect therapeutic drug preparations. While the sensitivity of assays employed to test pharmaceuticals for impurities is in accordance with good manufacturing practice guidelines allowing to exclude any physiological effects, minute trace amounts of contaminating compounds can still result in positive doping tests. In addition, food was found to be a potential source of unintentional doping, the most prominent example being meat tainted with the anabolic agent clenbuterol. The athletes' compliance with anti-doping rules is frequently tested by routine doping controls. Different measures including offers of topical information and education of the athletes as well as the maintenance of databases summarizing low- or high-risk supplements are important cornerstones in preventing unintentional anti-doping rule violations. Further, the collection of additional analytical data has been shown to allow for supporting result management processes.

Original document


27 July 2020
Geyer, Hans
Mareck, Ute
Thevis, Mario
Thomas, Andreas
Walpurgis, Katja
Adverse Analytical Finding / presence
Other organisations
Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents (EuMoCEDA)
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
S5. Diuretics and Other Masking Agents
S6. Stimulants
Doping control
Food and/or drinks
Document category
Scientific article
Document type
Pdf file
Date generated
7 September 2020
Date of last modification
13 September 2020
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