More and more athletes choose to use supplements, but with studies showing 1 in 5 supplements found at pharmacies and supermarkets contain a prohibited substance how do we minimise the risk of supplement usage. As a pharmacist, former athlete and founder of Batch Tested, I receive questions daily from athletes, doctors, dietitians and parents trying to get their head around third party testing and reducing the risks associated with supplements.
So let’s start at the beginning
There are two product classifications in Australia Registered (R) products and Listed (L) products
R products are assessed by TGA for safety, quality and evidence that it works as it claims, usually in the form of clinical trials whereas L products have less regulations, although must be able to demonstrate safety and quality if audited by TGA. Majority of vitamin supplements are Listed products which means they require further third party testing for athletes to ensure no prohibited substances have been detected. Registered products, many identifiable with “Pharmacy Medicine Only”, “Pharmacist Medicine Only” or “Prescription Medicine Only” do not technically require third party testing as they comply with TGA guidelines and their ingredients are easily identified, and checked, on Global DRO and Sport Integrity App.
The two main laboratories who perform third party testing on supplements are Hasta (Australia) and Informed Sport (UK). The supplement company can then choose whether they would like to get the product “tested” or “certified”.
Company sends a SPECIFIC BATCH (e.g Batch Number A1 with expiry 01/24) to be tested.
ONLY two bottles from that batch is required to be sent
NO manufacturing processes are assessed
Company receives a certificate showing the results (No Prohibited Substances Detected (ND) / Prohibited Substance Detected (*) / Sample NOT ANALYSABLE (NA)
VERY IMPORTANT TO ACTUALLY CHECK THE RESULT OF THE TEST ON CORRESPONDING CERTIFICATE EVERY PRODUCT EVERY TIME
RESULTS are ONLY found on the corresponding certificate NOT on Sport Integrity APP, NOT on Hasta Website / Informed Sport website
Company sends EVERY BATCH to be tested
ALL products are sent for testing
Manufacturing products ARE assessed
Product will be authorised to DISPLAY Hasta / Informed Sport LOGO on the product label
Product WILL feature on Sport Integrity App, Global DRO and Hasta / Informed Sport websites
Third Party testing is expensive with certification being into the thousands of dollars. It is important to remember that 99% of vitamin company’s market share DO NOT require third party testing so it is an expensive, and very important commitment, from these companies to invest in our athletes. Financial investment is the main reason vitamin companies have stopped third party testing over the past few years and if they do choose to invest in third party testing the “testing” pathway is the predominant method chosen.
Another source of great confusion for the industry is around sponsorship and influencers. Just because a vitamin company sponsors an event or an athlete endorses a product DOES NOT mean that all their products are third party tested. I see first hand where only stock for the ambassador is third party tested or only the stock that is being gifted to the athletes participating in the event is third party tested. I can not stress enough how important it is to CHECK EVERY PRODUCT EVERY TIME.