Understanding Banned Substances and How to Avoid Them


By: Angela Leach

Date: September 2016




Ok, so I’m pretty sure that any competing athlete knows that banned substances are bad and should be avoided, right? The obvious solution to the problem would be to find the list of banned substances and avoid them. This list does exist and can be found on http://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/wada-2016-prohibited-list-en.pdf. However, the situation becomes a bit more complicated because the supplement industry in South Africa is unregulated. This puts supplement users that are not intentionally consuming illegal substances at risk because said ingredients may be hidden in the supplement without any statement on the packaging.

Banned or prohibited substances are any substances which are illegal for use by competing athletes because they may artificially improve one’s performance. Testing for banned substances is done at random in the competitive arena and a positive doping test can result in suspensions or even end a sporting career.


  • Look out for INFORMED-CHOICE and INFORMED-SPORT logos on products.

Or visit http://informed-choice.org/sites/default/files/Informed-Choice%20Summary%20List_22Sep2016.pdf for a full list of certified products. These are certification programs for sports supplements, ingredients and manufacturing facilities, which assures buyers of products carrying these logos have been regularly tested for substances prohibited by WADA (World Anti-doping Agency). They also ensure that products have been manufactured to high quality standards, another common concern with supplements.


Although not exclusively a sports supplement, but rather a balanced food, FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smart Food™ is endorsed by Informed Choice, giving you everything that you need for effective exercise recovery without the risk.


  • Limit supplement use overall. Just because an unregulated supplement claims to be able to help you, doesn’t mean it will, so why increase your risk of consuming a contaminated product. Make use of reputable resources to make an informed choice about a supplement and decide if it is really necessary for your set of circumstances. Visit https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Public/noap-position-paper.aspx, page 30 and 31 for a summary of what ingredients may perform as claimed as well as further insight into who may benefit and concerns associated with use.


  • Consult with a dietician or sports physician. Even if a product is effective it is always advisable to consult an expert before choosing a supplement. They will be able to give you better insight into product safety as well as the required dosage, form of the ingredient to use, interactions with other medications/nutrients, contraindications etc.


  • Food first. An effective supplement may still not be necessary for you. Always consider whether you can get the same benefit from food, if so food is always the safer option here. Here is an article which may answer this question for you, http://futurelife.co.za/food-sources-favourite-supplements/.


  • Phone or mail the company selling the product. And ask important regarding manufacturing, possible contaminants, ingredient safety or any other concerns you may have.


Testing positive for banned substances could be a humiliating experience. Avoid a completely unintentional positive test by being better informed.