According to new research published from the Drug Control Centre, the UK’s WADA-accredited laboratory at King’s College London, some supplements that are available for purchase in the United Kingdom contain anabolic steroids.
These latest findings have reinforced the requirement for athletes to efficiently and effectively manage the risks associated with supplements. Working with colleagues in Liverpool and Lisbon, the team at King’s College London selected 24 products from two fitness equipment shops in the United Kingdom. These products were selected for analysis as they appeared to be anabolic agents because of the name of the product, the nature of their advertising, and the ingredients listed.
The 24 products were analyzed by the Drug Control Centre scientists by using a wide variety of sophisticated analytical techniques. This was done to identify ingredients of the products for determining whether they contained substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The study results revealed that 23 of the 24 products contained anabolic steroids prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency. It was also found by the research that the steroid identified within the product was usually different from what was indicated on the packaging.
The study also disclosed that a selection of products, which were made a part of the study, were advertised as ‘prohormones’, with researchers suggesting they could be misconstrued as legal replacements for anabolic androgenic steroids. In other words, the steroids identified during this study were found prohibited in sport and many of the steroids are controlled in the United Kingdom under the existing legislation, which mean that they are being sold illegally. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, anabolic steroids are currently controlled as Class C drugs.
Lead author Dr Chris Walker from the King’s College London Drug Control Centre said we are concerned by the range of different anabolic steroids being sold openly despite limited safety data. This puts the athlete at risk not only of failing a doping control test but also of possible harm to their health.
UKAD Head of Science and Medicine Nick Wojek added the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London used some of the most sophisticated analytical techniques available to conduct this research. Wojek added it is once again encouraging to see the desire of academics in the UK to conduct high-quality research in this area.
Findings of this study highlight the risks around supplement use and the study also illustrates the importance that athletes, amateur or professional, should thoroughly research each product before use. The research also highlighted concern for health of the users who take the tested products on a regular basis as over 50 percent of the products were found to contain significant amounts of a specific group of steroids (the 17α-alkylated anabolic steroids); chronic use of these steroids can result in liver damage.
UKAD Head of Education and Athlete Support Amanda Batt said UKAD and its partners are committed to educating athletes on the potential risks associated with sports supplements. Amanda added this latest research reinforces the importance that athletes who decide to use supplements choose reputable manufacturers who can justify their claims with scientific evidence, and screen products to minimize the risk of a user testing positive for a banned substance.