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Nutritional and Dietary Supplements: Know the Risks
As the nutritional and dietary supplement industry continues to grow in popularity,
don’t believe everything you read. Claims of improved performance, recovery time and
muscle-building lack proof of effectiveness and may potentially be harmful to health or
performance. Most important, these substances are not strictly regulated by the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). Consequently, the contents of many compounds are
not accurately represented on the list of ingredients and may contain impurities or banned
substances, resulting in a positive drug test.
The NCAA does not endorse any nutritional or dietary supplement product despite
claims by some manufacturers. Nutritional supplements permissible by the NCAA may
not contain any banned substance (Table 1 below) and must fall into the following
classes: carbohydrate/electrolyte drinks, energy bars, carbohydrate boosters and vitamins
and minerals. These products typically do not contribute to performance enhancement
and are generally accepted and widely used by the public at large.
Energy drinks, though widely popular, do not fall within these classes. Many contain
large amounts of either caffeine or other stimulants, both of which can result in a positive
drug test. Stimulants are banned by the NCAA, and their use while exercising can
increase the risk of heat illness. Additionally, since these products lack FDA regulations,
they may also contain ingredients not listed and deemed impermissible.
Table 1 lists ingredients impermissible by the NCAA in ANY nutritional or dietary
supplement. The list is not exhaustive and contains substances that may be found on the
product labels under different names. Further clarification on ingredients and validity of
product claims may be obtained through the Resource Exchange Center (REC) web site
at ( password ncaa1,ncaa2, or ncaa3, depending on your
divisional classification).
Ultimately, most nutritional and dietary supplements are ineffective, costly and
unnecessary. Student-athletes have tested positive and lost their eligibility using dietary
and nutritional supplements. Testing positive for use of a supplement product without
checking the product with the athletics staff, the student-athlete bears full responsibility
and sanctions for a positive test. Positive test appeals based on claims the student-athlete
did not know the substance taken contained banned drugs have not been successful.
Before taking ANY nutritional or dietary supplement consult with your Sports Medicine
staff. Ignorance is no excuse!
Table 1
NCAA Impermissible Ingredients in Nutritional and Dietary
(These ingredients are no exhaustive)
Amino Acids ( including amino acid chelates )
CLA ( conjugated linoleic acid )
Creatine and compounds containing creatine
Garcinia cambogia ( hydroxycitric acid )
Gingko Biloba
Green Tea
HMB ( hydroxyl-methybutyrate)
MSM (methylsulfonyl methane )
Protein powders
St. John’s Wort
Weight Gainers
*Chondroitin and Glucosamine may be used for medical purposes if prescribed by a
medical doctor to treat a specific, diagnosed medical condition, and must be presented in
**Glycerol or glycerine is permissible as a binding ingredient in a supplement product.