HIDDEN BANNED SUBSTANCES IN SUPPLEMENTS CAN KEEP ATHLETES OUT OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
A number of athletes have tested positive from the hidden presence of banned substances in supplements and have lost the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games. This summer on the road to Rio, Olympic athletes of every stripe would be wise to recall the case of American swimmer Jessica Hardy and others like American bobsledder Pavle Jovanovich who have fallen victim to supplement contamination. Third-party dietary supplement certification, like BSCG Certified Drug Free® program, is a way for athletes to mitigate the risk of testing positive from banned substances in supplements.
Eight years ago, a twenty-one-year-old Hardy was pulled from the 2008 Summer Olympic team heading to Beijing after testing positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol at the Olympic Trials. Instead of getting to swim the 100-meter breaststroke, 50-meter freestyle, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay for which she had qualified, she was smacked with a two-year ban. Not only that, her career was now marred with a doping violation, casting a shadow over all of her athletic achievements.
Hardy maintained her innocence, saying she had never before heard of clenbuterol. Some in her entourage, including a coach, pointed to the possibility of banned substances in supplements she had been consuming as a potential culprit for the positive drug test.
Under WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) and IOC (International Olympic Committee) rules, however, ignorance about a substance being banned or lack of awareness of how a banned substance entered the body, referred to as ‘inadvertent use,’ are not valid excuses. Athletes are responsible for any banned substance they ingest, regardless of the means, which is known as ‘strict liability.’
At the time, the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) Athlete Ombudsman suggested to Hardy and her team that she consider having her supplements tested by renowned anti-doping guru Dr. Don Catlin, BSCG’s Chief Science Officer. After rigorous testing, Dr. Catlin and his team at the nonprofit/NGO Anti-Doping Research did indeed find trace amounts of clenbuterol in a legally sold supplement Hardy had been taking.