Does the UK Need Stricter Standards for Sports Supplements?

Many athletes can find themselves tempted by sports supplements, designed to enhance performance and give them an advantage over opponents. Many supplements are consumed in the hopes of increasing muscle mass, improving energy levels, and decreasing body fat. Whilst some are legal, many of these supplements contain illegal substances in order to give the athletes an unfair advantage. Athletes may seek anything to help improve their performance, but the real risk comes when consuming supplements that have unknown ingredients in them. If an athlete is found to have taken illegal substances, their whole career could be ruined. In a recent report made by the Australian Crime Commission, or ACC, it was found that some athlete’s may have unknowingly consumed products that contained or were contaminated with banned ingredients such as illegal performance enhancing drugs. In many cases these ingredients were in products and not listed on the ingredients.


A vast majority of sports supplement producers and suppliers sponsor clubs or individual players, in a commercial relationship that can often cause major concern for the credibility and honesty of sport. The ACC has accused many sports of being guilty of drug-use, and whilst the majority of important sports supplements producers have welcomed increased checks and law enforcement, they suggest that athletes are still threatened by imported, unregulated products that contain illegal substances. The sports supplement market has become increasingly competitive and cut-throat, and new operators and distributors are encouraging athletes to take questionable supplements that may be illegal to consume. Quade Cooper, an Australian rugby player, has spoken out about being confronted by supplement companies whom he didn’t trust, and stated that he would only use products tested and recommended by professionals working for the Australian Rugby Union. Many of these supplements are imported, and whilst the ACC has shown that rigorous checks and rules are in place for domestic brands, supplements from the US or UK have far less strict conditions of manufacture. A call has been made for these countries to improve their regulations of new sports supplements, in order to improve the integrity of the sports industry.

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