Drugs in sports supplements


For people who have had other things to do this week, the world of Motocross and Supercross has been in a little uproar with the development in the Christian Craig finding and 2-year suspension after Craig tested positive for a low level banned substance. Then with the developments of Australian Swimming with Aussie Swimmers also under suspensions.

Yes, we do need drug testing in the sport of Motocross and Supercross.  But do we need to follow the WADA suspension guide? Personally, I think that any sport that is not an Olympic Sport should automatically have any suspension cut in half. The whole idea of a 4-year ban is to prevent an athlete competing at the next Olympic Cycle and any events leading up to the Olympic Games. From my understanding with the WADA Code, an athlete is only tested for a positive or negative finding, so regardless of quantity in their system, a low or high amount it is only the positive that is noted.

What has come out of the whole Motocross/Supercross and Swimming drug saga is the use of Supplements. An interesting article was written by James Purtill 31 July 2019 “How are banned bodybuilding chemicals getting into sports supplements?” 

“For many, it would have been the first they’d heard of Ligandrol and the class of drugs known as SARMs – Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators.

But in fact, more than a year ago, a combined triple j Hack and Background Briefing investigation discovered a booming market for Ligandrol and other SARMs, and led to America’s so-called ‘top steroid cop’ warning of their influx into Australian professional and amateur sport.

Jeff Novitzky (pictured) is a leading sports doping experts who made his name investigating disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. He’s now in charge of cleaning up the UFC mixed martial arts competition.

“The sports supplement industry has quite a few problems, and there’s very common occurrences of these supplements being contaminated or in some cases purposefully spiked with really dangerous drugs,” Jeff told Hack in April last year.

“It’s a worldwide problem.””

How supplements can be contaminated

Supplements can be contaminated in two ways: intentionally or accidentally.

Although a supplement may be ‘made in Australia’, the raw materials (e.g. the protein powder) are often manufactured overseas in large facilities that supply bulk ingredients to hundreds of brands around the world.

According to Novitzky, who investigated supplement contamination in the US when he was with the FDA, in several cases the supply chain led back to Chinese labs that were also producing steroids and other banned substances.

“And I think that’s where the problem and the issue originates,” he said.

“How it works is the Chinese manufacturing facility will make a run of anabolic steroids.

And then the next run of the material could be a vitamin or a protein. And frankly, the machines aren’t cleaned off very well or can be cross-contamination through particles of the substances going through the air.

Although these suppliers of bulk ingredients issue their customers with a ‘paper audit’ that guarantees the purity of the product, most Australian brands don’t do their own regular batch testing; they simply trust that what’s on the label is what’s in the barrels of white powder.

Regulatory authorities, also, don’t do mandatory testing of source ingredients, or even of the finished product that goes on sale to the public.”

With the AMA’s doping athletes list growing, statements are being made to have the Supercross being disassociated with the FIM. The latest to join the FIM-exsit is Multi-Champion Jemery McGrath.

GateDrop reported that Jeremy McGrath has called for the FIM, the world sanctioning body of global motorcycle racing, to be removed from the supercross series after another rider, Christian Craig, has got banned because of drugs found in his system.

The drug testing in FIM events (including MXGP, MotoGP, WSB and supercross) is done by WADA, ( World Anti-Doping Agency) an organisation that deals in a wide variety of global sports.

However, the US fans and McGrath, not used to international sports and governing bodies, are outraged that the likes of Tickle and Craig are losing vital career time by the slow handling of the process by an international non-American governing body, in what they believe to be minor and unintentional infringements.

McGrath wrote on social media: “Get rid of the FIM immediately. We don’t need a union or a staged rider sit-out. What we need is common sense? In my opinion, the teams and Feld need to step up and demand the FIM go. Why do we need both AMA and FIM? We don’t need either…”