Prevalence of adulteration in dietary supplements and recommendations for safe supplement practices in sport


The prevalence of dietary supplement use among athletes continues to rise with 60–80% of athletes often reporting current or previous use of dietary supplements. While select dietary ingredients have been shown to improve acute performance and enhance training adaptations over time, it is important to still consider the risk vs. reward for athletes before opting to consume a dietary supplement. Previous work has indicated that certain dietary supplements may pose risks for inadvertent doping, may be susceptible to mislabelling, could be banned by certain governing bodies of sport, or pose health risks for certain populations. The purpose of the current narrative review is to summarize the prevalence of adulteration in dietary sport supplement products, outline the risks of inadvertent doping for athletes, and highlight best practices regarding safe supplementation strategies. Analytical studies have found anywhere from 14 to 50% of samples analyzed from dietary supplement products have tested positive for anabolic agents or other prohibited substances. It is important for the consumer to adhere to safe supplementation strategies, which include following serving size recommendations, cross-referencing ingredient profiles with the list of prohibited substances, choosing quality products that have been verified by a third-party certification program, and being cognizant of consuming multiple dietary supplement products with overlapping ingredient profiles. Once these practices have been considered, it is reasonable for an athlete to utilize dietary supplements as a strategy to optimize performance and health, with a low risk of failing a drug test (adverse analytical finding) and experiencing adverse events.


2023 Jagim, Harty, Erickson, Tinsley, Garner and Galpin. cc-by


adulteration, anti-doping rule violation, dietary supplements, ergogenic aids, inadvertent doping


Jagim, A.R., Harty, P.S., Erickson, J.L., Tinsley, G.M., Garner, D., & Galpin, A.J.. 2023. Prevalence of adulteration in dietary supplements and recommendations for safe supplement practices in sport. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 5.