IRB guideline on dietary supplements
- Players are advised to exercise extreme caution regarding the use of any dietary supplement as no guarantee can be provided that any particular supplement, including vitamins and minerals, ergogenic aids and herbal remedies are totally free from Prohibited Substances.
- The biggest risk associated with the use of dietary supplements is cross contamination or lacing with substances that are prohibited. A product could also contain ingredients that are also not listed on the label which are prohibited or are listed under an alternate name which may not be listed on the prohibited list.
- Players should also be aware that products marketed under the same brand in different countries may contain different ingredients which may not always appear on the product label.
- Strict Liability - a Player is solely responsible for any Prohibited Substances found to be present in his or her body. It is not necessary that intent or fault on the Player’s part be shown in order for an anti-doping rule violation to be established. Nor is lack of intent a defence to testing positive to a Prohibited Substance because of a contaminated supplement.
- The use of any nutritional or dietary supplement by a Player is at their own risk.
- The principle of personal responsibility cannot be abdicated because of the actions of coaches or medical advisers or any other person associated with the Player’s Union or Team. The fact that supplements may be provided by a Player's Club, Union, or other Rugby Body, will not absolve the Player of his or her responsibility for the consequences if the use of such supplements results in an anti-doping rule violation. This will be the case even if there was no reason to suspect that the supplement contained a prohibited substance.
- The only way to completely eliminate the risk of dietary supplements is to not take them.
- Players are more likely to benefit from a healthy, well balanced diet which should be put in place by an appropriately qualified nutritionist.
- Dietary or nutritional supplements, ergogenic aids and herbal products should only be considered for use where the nutritional review and supplementation process is controlled and individually monitored by appropriately qualified medical practitioners or nutritionists and where the appropriate batches of the products have undergone the applicable tests to ensure that the products do not contain any prohibited substances.
Players who insist on using dietary supplements should consider the following risk assessment prior to using any dietary supplement.
- Seek expert guidance to assess your dietary and performance needs from an appropriately qualified person.
- Is there any valid evidence that the supplement you feel you need to take really works? Many of the claimed benefits are not clearly supported by scientific research.
- Be wary of products that claim to increase strength, muscle mass, energy or weight loss.
- Research well known products/brands.
- Read the label and list of ingredients very carefully and undertake a search on each ingredient to ensure that it is not linked to a substance on the WADA prohibited list.
- Avoid purchasing supplements over the internet.
- Avoid taking or sharing supplements with fellow Players, friends or Athletes from other sports.
- Avoid purchasing supplements from a manufacturer who also produces supplements that contain or are known to contain Prohibited Substances.
- Seriously consider having a supplement tested by a laboratory to ensure the batch does not contain any Prohibited Substances prior to using it.
Note: The above points do not abdicate a Player’s responsibility as the consumption of any supplement remains at the Player’s own risk regardless of the precautionary measures the Player adopts.
Adam Dean, a 17-year-old Rugby Player was achieving his highest honours at his age group in Rugby, receiving international caps for England at the Under 18 group.
Following the pressures of being told he needed to be “bigger, faster and stronger”, Adam began the use of supplements to complement his training and diet. Although aware of having to adhere to the rules of the Prohibited List, the education Adam had received had not made him fully aware of the risk of potential contamination of supplements and he decided to make his decision based on his own research. Adam chose a supplement that did not have any prohibited substances on the product label, a product that also made claims of being “suitable for drug tested athletes.”
Assuming that the information provided by the manufacturer was accurate and substantiated, Adam began to take the supplements as part of his training regime. Adam tested positive for 19-Norandrosterone (a prohibited anabolic agent) and the only explanation Adam could comprehend was that the positive test was attributable to the supplements that he was taking. Adam was banned for two years from Rugby.
Keep Rugby Clean Ambassadors
View resources available in:
Watch sample collection video
Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs)
Stay informed: read
TUE application form