General Doping Thread.

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Interesting thread. At Science in Sport we spend a lot of money with Informed Sport both on batch testing and also facility accreditation. We think that using sports nutrition and supplements tested within a recognised system in probably the best way we can support athletes and clean sport.

I guess one of the issues is there are - if you look at the stats and research - more than a few manufacturers who can't or don't want to invest in the testing of the product. We have even seen manufacturers put a fake accreditation on their packaging. We are also aware some brands will have a part of their range tested and then infer it's the whole range tested. So it throws quite a bit of onus on the athlete to check, it's not straightforward.

The other issue is the athlete automatically blaming the supplement manufacturer for their own transgressions, that gets aired out a lot. One manufacturer has bitten back and taken action against an athlete. We have had an athlete go down the route of blaming us, but they turned back when we stood firm.

A lot of education to be done on all sides, it's going to take time.
 
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Again with this absolute nonsense. You suspect, likely based on no actual knowledge, so it’s the fault of the code? The code is not unwieldy, the fault is with the products. WADA may decide this warrants a change in policy for punishment as fmk_RoI suggests, but they’re not going to start dropping things from the code because athletes want to make money of sponsorship deals.
With respect, I fail to see a cause and effect relationship between having a more clearly defined ' banned list' of substances and athletes accepting sponsorship deals.

Anyway you are coming from it from a scientific viewpoint and i am approaching it from a 'lay persons' view point - We can agree to disagree ;)
 
With respect, I fail to see a cause and effect relationship between having a more clearly defined ' banned list' of substances and athletes accepting sponsorship deals.

Anyway you are coming from it from a scientific viewpoint and i am approaching it from a 'lay persons' view point - We can agree to disagree ;)
Althletes are taking sponsorship deals for supplements that are contaminated with banned substances. It's not on WADA to make the list easier to cheat so that they can do this and not fall foul of their mistakes. I believe this is what Shanya Jack is claiming.



It has been explained on multiple occasions why a list containing only specific substances wouldn't work. I will do it one more time and I will try to make it as simple as possible.

Morphine, codeine and heroin are all opioids. They have a similar effect but are different due to slight molecular differences. On a defined list you would have to specifically name all three. As soon as you do that a chemist can make a slight change to one of these so it is different but still has the same effect. This then needs to a) be found out about and b) added to the list. As soon as that happens the cycle repeats.

This can be done very easily with anabolic steroids, it's exactly what Patrick Arnold did when he developed "The Clear" (THG). This is why a defined list does not work.


The claims that the list is difficult to understand and too easy to fall foul of don't hold up to scrutiny. If it were, we would be seeing many more athletes banned than we are.



As a side note, it was Patrick Arnold who reintroduced methylhexanamine (DMAA) to the supplement market and a couple of prohormones.
 
Interesting thread. At Science in Sport we spend a lot of money with Informed Sport both on batch testing and also facility accreditation. We think that using sports nutrition and supplements tested within a recognised system in probably the best way we can support athletes and clean sport.

I guess one of the issues is there are - if you look at the stats and research - more than a few manufacturers who can't or don't want to invest in the testing of the product. We have even seen manufacturers put a fake accreditation on their packaging. We are also aware some brands will have a part of their range tested and then infer it's the whole range tested. So it throws quite a bit of onus on the athlete to check, it's not straightforward.

The other issue is the athlete automatically blaming the supplement manufacturer for their own transgressions, that gets aired out a lot. One manufacturer has bitten back and taken action against an athlete. We have had an athlete go down the route of blaming us, but they turned back when we stood firm.

A lot of education to be done on all sides, it's going to take time.
Thanks for the reply, always good to get an industry perspective. And welcome to the forum.

The issues you raise are certainly troubling and they're the kind of thing you could expect to happen.


I would think that most of us have the cynical view that athletes will dope with things they know can be found in supplements and then blame the supplement when they are caught. You are probably aware of the Matthews review in Sports Health in 2017 and the Ortiz-Moncada review in Nutrients from the same year. These reviews show that some extremely potent doping products are found in a range of supplements. Setting limits for these without massively increasing testing would almost declare open season on using those products.


It is good to hear that the industry fights back against being blamed, that's certainly reassuring as it helps shut down that avenue for cheating.
 
Thresholds for what though? This is the issue with trying to allow limits for supplements. How do you decide what possible contaminants will turn up in every supplement?
Not suggesting it, saying it's where I see WADA going. They solved the noughties problem of TUEs by setting limits and so removing TUEs. Tygart is saying the problem is testing for SARMs is a thousand times better than it was on certain substances. It doesn't solve the problem of tainted supplements and athletes ignoring advice, just reduces the amount of bad PR. Personally, given the experience of the haematocrit limit, limits are not a solution I personally favour, but I can see WADA's thinking going there.
 
I guess one of the issues is there are - if you look at the stats and research - more than a few manufacturers who can't or don't want to invest in the testing of the product. We have even seen manufacturers put a fake accreditation on their packaging. We are also aware some brands will have a part of their range tested and then infer it's the whole range tested. So it throws quite a bit of onus on the athlete to check, it's not straightforward.
As an industry, how is this being responded to? Calls for government oversight?
 
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As an industry, how is this being responded to? Calls for government oversight?
Good question. There is no industry body and it's a very fragmented sector globally. Ranging from small startups to global players, and companies like us who have built an international presence in the endurance sport sector. It comes down to companies role modelling the right behaviours, which as we know isn't the easiest.

We spend a lot of time on education and hopefully the message filters through to athletes and coaches/performance directors - check your sports nutrition and supplements. It's not that hard, providing the athlete is armed with basic knowledge.

Government oversight is an interesting approach. But where would it land on the priority list?
 
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Thanks for the reply, always good to get an industry perspective. And welcome to the forum.

The issues you raise are certainly troubling and they're the kind of thing you could expect to happen.


I would think that most of us have the cynical view that athletes will dope with things they know can be found in supplements and then blame the supplement when they are caught. You are probably aware of the Matthews review in Sports Health in 2017 and the Ortiz-Moncada review in Nutrients from the same year. These reviews show that some extremely potent doping products are found in a range of supplements. Setting limits for these without massively increasing testing would almost declare open season on using those products.


It is good to hear that the industry fights back against being blamed, that's certainly reassuring as it helps shut down that avenue for cheating.
I agree with you. Personal opinion is that some companies have these banned substances in on purpose and carry out a 'nod and a wink' type of soft marketing. Some athletes use them knowing it's not straight down the line stuff, but still want to cry when caught. Sadly some athletes are so ill-educated on the subject, they just hoover them down and then get popped.

Anf yes, the reviews quoted and several others show this is a real issue, the stats are worrying and haven't improved over an extended period.

When I hear governing bodies say 'don't use supplements' I tend to think that's not a solution, it just drives it underground. We need to tackle the issue with education and better governance.
 
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We need to tackle the issue with education and better governance.
We keep coming back to this when it comes to doping: education, education, education. It's fifty years since Jacques Anquteil was repeating that mantra. The education is there. Especially about supplements. But many athletes are ignoring what is being said. And some athletes are being popped despite taking the advised precautions.

With regard to better governance: please expand on what can be done.
 
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We keep coming back to this when it comes to doping: education, education, education. It's fifty years since Jacques Anquteil was repeating that mantra. The education is there. Especially about supplements. But many athletes are ignoring what is being said. And some athletes are being popped despite taking the advised precautions.

With regard to better governance: please expand on what can be done.
Good question. I'm not optimistic.

You could go for industry self-governing. It won't work because a lot of manufacturers won't spend the money on the necessary testing and education programmes.

It's impossible to work with governing bodies. We have tried and have been strongly and aggressively pushed back. I won't go into how aggressive, but I was pretty shocked. The stance is 'don't use supplements' and that's an unrealistic stance, athletes and coaches are always going to do so, given the demands on the physiology sport brings.

The commercial testing companies can't or won't lead, their marketing budgets don't go that far.

I realise that's not a helpful response, but it's my reality from within the business. All I can say is that the vast bulk of athletes we discuss the matter with do take the issue very seriously. But as in all walks of human endeavour there are people who game the system for an edge. It's always the small percentage that screw the game.
 
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It's impossible to work with governing bodies. We have tried and have been strongly and aggressively pushed back. I won't go into how aggressive, but I was pretty shocked. The stance is 'don't use supplements' and that's an unrealistic stance, athletes and coaches are always going to do so, given the demands on the physiology sport brings.
On that score, am I right in understanding that you can't use WADA-accredited labs for testing of products?
 
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WADA don't allow their accredited labs to test commercial products unless it's part of a doping case. So we use what we believe to be the best commercial lab to test batches and other parts of the supply chain versus the WADA list.
 
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Going back to regulations, you're an international company, so you're dealing with different rules in different territories, yes? In the UK, you're effectively policed by local trading standards officers along with over-arching rules which originated from the EU, is that a fair summary? Other territories have a more relaxed take - from Mark Johnson's Spitting in the Soup the view seems to be that in America supplements have only limited oversight, and the makers fight event that. Are there territories with more stringent rules, where supplements are seen as going beyond food?

With the UK leaving the EU, are you concerned that standards will slip? I'm not suggesting you'll be forced to sell the equivalent of chlorinated supplements, but you could move more toward the US model and away from the EU.

Finding the right rules is not easy, I appreciate: you've got to balance the cost of red tape (which can be expensive) with the benefits from regulation (getting the cowboys out of the game). And, obviously, you have to get the attention of the rule makers, and this is way down their list.

I don't really expect us to discover a solution here: this is more about airing the issues, putting more context behind stories like Shayna Jack's without making it be about Shayna Jack. Your time an input into this is appreciated: thank you.
 
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Good questions. Trading Standards are interested in proper labelling and product claims and ingredient declarations and are quite strict. They don't get involved in banned substances to any degree I'm aware of. You're right that the EU claims legislation is quite strict. I don't see standards slipping when we exit the EU, UK Trading Standards approach matters in quite a thorough way.

Claims are a lot less regulated in the USA and I think this opens the landscape up to more lurid claims and manufacturers taking risks with ingredients. Again, there isn't a focus on banned substances. So it can get very sketchy. Other countries can get very focused on specific ingredient areas from a food safety perspective, e.g. Australia and caffeine, Italy and some vitamin levels. Nations tend to take a food safety approach proactively and go after banned substances reactively.

We looked at how we could proactively prevent banned substances and looked at all the major services available across the world before settling with our current system. It's an above and beyond approach and we have had to tailor it. We weren't for example, fans of the NSF system in the USA, we believe not as thorough, yet it costs us some credibility as it's not the 'local' system.

But you can see that it takes a lot of thought and effort and money to get a robust system. I'm outlining the lengths we are going to not to sell our business, but to say it isn't simple and it isn't cheap. It's a big commitment for a business owner and sometimes you can question what real-world benefit it has for your business. We are very committed, but I can see businesses also stepping around it quickly. As for the low moral standard businesses ... they will market banned substances as a benefit in some cases.

Sorry, went off on a ramble there, not sure that 100% answers your questions.
 
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Enjoying this discussion, it really highlights what you can find in the clinic.

Not suggesting it, saying it's where I see WADA going. They solved the noughties problem of TUEs by setting limits and so removing TUEs. Tygart is saying the problem is testing for SARMs is a thousand times better than it was on certain substances. It doesn't solve the problem of tainted supplements and athletes ignoring advice, just reduces the amount of bad PR. Personally, given the experience of the haematocrit limit, limits are not a solution I personally favour, but I can see WADA's thinking going there.
I was more wondering how you think they might do it, if they were to implement such limits. The potential to find banned substances in supplements is fairly high and there are pretty much "cheat sheets" available in the literature telling athletes what they can take and still feasibly blame it on a supplement. From your post I'm guessing you think they'd set limits for everything if they went this route and accept the possibility it allows for doping?


I'm actually not sure that WADA need to change their rules. I am interested in the liability of Informed Sport and supplement manufacturers (and I realise @stephenm may not wish to comment around this). If an athlete were to used an Informed Sport tested product and test positive for a banned substance, who would be liable for their loss of earnings? The rules are pretty clear, strict liability means the athlete is responsible for what they consume, but do the claims from Informed Sport amount to a contract of guaranteed clean products? (Or as close to guaranteed as you can get). Does using Informed Sport to test for banned products provide some indemnity to the supplement manufacturer? If these things are true, could an athlete who can prove that the supplement they took contains a banned substance AND was accredited via Informed Sport bring a case for loss of earnings? I'm aware that the likelihood of this happening is extremely small.

Maybe an addition to the ADAMS system inline with Informed Sport is required. You log supplement batch numbers in ADAMS and in the event of a positive it can be traced back to the possibly contaminated supplement. I'm not sure on the costs etc. but it might be feasible for all batches that are sold with the Informed Sport mark to be tested, or at least stored for future testing. It doesn't alter the rules, it just provides some added security for athletes who choose to use properly tested supplements. It also highlights to those athletes who are not using tested supplements that what they are doing is not covered.


I'm guessing that SIS/Etixx/MaxiMuscle etc. probably store some of each batch for future testing, just in case an athlete tries to blame them, so an ADAMS update wouldn't actually be a huge change. It would just make it part of the monitoring system and have a process for checking put in place that all parties are aware of. It would also mean that, if a supplement were found to be contaminated, the system could be used to alert other athletes and remove it from circulation. I'm aware this only covers athletes using ADAMS, but NADOs could send out alerts too along with governing bodies.



On more of an academic point of self interest, I wonder if there is a possibility of a Diane Modahl-like situation occurring, where a supplement contains something that, upon metabolism, converts into a banned substance or creates a positive test for a naturally-occurring substance like testosterone? (I'm aware Diane's case was due to sample degradation so not the same, just similar). This wouldn't necessarily show up in testing of the supplement.
 
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From your post I'm guessing you think they'd set limits for everything if they went this route and accept the possibility it allows for doping?
In my more cynical moments, yes, sadly.
If an athlete were to used an Informed Sport tested product and test positive for a banned substance, who would be liable for their loss of earnings?
Maybe we could get Tom Dnaielson to answer that one, one day. He says he successfully showed that the manufacturer of his supplements also did DHEA and hence he got popped for DHEA. Can't say as I recall him suing the maker (which, I presume, was not the company that provided Garmindale with their supplements, which were supposed to be tested clean, else surely JV would have been on the case?) (Not really a helpful answer, more me speculating on a recent bugbear, soz.)
Enjoying this discussion, it really highlights what you can find in the clinic.
+1 Many thanks to @stephenm for his input here.
 
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Enjoying this discussion, it really highlights what you can find in the clinic.



I was more wondering how you think they might do it, if they were to implement such limits. The potential to find banned substances in supplements is fairly high and there are pretty much "cheat sheets" available in the literature telling athletes what they can take and still feasibly blame it on a supplement. From your post I'm guessing you think they'd set limits for everything if they went this route and accept the possibility it allows for doping?


I'm actually not sure that WADA need to change their rules. I am interested in the liability of Informed Sport and supplement manufacturers (and I realise @stephenm may not wish to comment around this). If an athlete were to used an Informed Sport tested product and test positive for a banned substance, who would be liable for their loss of earnings? The rules are pretty clear, strict liability means the athlete is responsible for what they consume, but do the claims from Informed Sport amount to a contract of guaranteed clean products? (Or as close to guaranteed as you can get). Does using Informed Sport to test for banned products provide some indemnity to the supplement manufacturer? If these things are true, could an athlete who can prove that the supplement they took contains a banned substance AND was accredited via Informed Sport bring a case for loss of earnings? I'm aware that the likelihood of this happening is extremely small.

Maybe an addition to the ADAMS system inline with Informed Sport is required. You log supplement batch numbers in ADAMS and in the event of a positive it can be traced back to the possibly contaminated supplement. I'm not sure on the costs etc. but it might be feasible for all batches that are sold with the Informed Sport mark to be tested, or at least stored for future testing. It doesn't alter the rules, it just provides some added security for athletes who choose to use properly tested supplements. It also highlights to those athletes who are not using tested supplements that what they are doing is not covered.


I'm guessing that SIS/Etixx/MaxiMuscle etc. probably store some of each batch for future testing, just in case an athlete tries to blame them, so an ADAMS update wouldn't actually be a huge change. It would just make it part of the monitoring system and have a process for checking put in place that all parties are aware of. It would also mean that, if a supplement were found to be contaminated, the system could be used to alert other athletes and remove it from circulation. I'm aware this only covers athletes using ADAMS, but NADOs could send out alerts too along with governing bodies.



On more of an academic point of self interest, I wonder if there is a possibility of a Diane Modahl-like situation occurring, where a supplement contains something that, upon metabolism, converts into a banned substance or creates a positive test for a naturally-occurring substance like testosterone? (I'm aware Diane's case was due to sample degradation so not the same, just similar). This wouldn't necessarily show up in testing of the supplement.
Informed Sport don't give a 100% guarantee and they are at pains to say that on their website. They are testing to very fine margins, but can't be cast iron sure. So an athlete would struggle to sue them.

We have adopted a beyond the norm approach to minimise the risk as much as possible, but we have had to really make it central to our ethos. We do batch testing, therefore we minimise risk. Then we go the extra mile and have our factory tested too. Then we go upstream into the supply chain and audit supplier systems. It costs a lot of money and time. I'm not saying this to show off at all, I'm saying it to illustrate that making the athlete safe isn't a small undertaking. Our batch test + factory test + supplier audit reduces risk to an unbelievably low level ... but it doesn't reduce it completely. You may be in - say - one a billion territory. But you're not in zero risk territory.

Remember we are in a world where many manufacturers can't or won't spend that much time or effort. Indeed some notable brands have recently backed out of testing. And some make misleading claims as to where they sit in the hierarchy of rigorous systems. The industry needs to get its act together.

On your point on an ADAMS type system. You can look at a batch number on one of our products and type it into the Informed Sport system and you will see the test certificate. And there will be a retained sample too. The system is in place and available to any athlete.

On residual risk in the system. Poor athlete you might say. Not so sure. If my livelihood and repuation depended on checking my nutrition, you bet your life I would. The cynic in me wonders how much the industry is a punchbag for the lazy or cheating athlete. I know we had a case of an athlete trying to point at us for a positive and we rolled out our system and records and all of a sudden the athlete was blaming food. I said the industry needs to get its act together, but athletes need to as well.

Governing bodies need to get their acts together too. "Don't use supplements" is a head in the sand or "look, over there!" approach to banned substances. An elite athlete needs to get food right first. Once that is maxed out, then get sports nutrition right. Finally supplements as the final few % points for the very elite. These three elements will always be there and there is risk in all three elements. So saying don't use two of them (because they seem to interchange supplements and sports nutrition) isn't realistic. You ain't going to get enought calories and nutrients in to cycle TdF off three square meals a day.
 
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Informed Sport don't give a 100% guarantee and they are at pains to say that on their website. They are testing to very fine margins, but can't be cast iron sure. So an athlete would struggle to sue them.
I've only had a brief poke around the IS website, but I'm not sure it's that clear. This page for example:



Because of my education, I can read between the lines and understand what's being said here and I know nothing can be guaranteed, but I think an athlete could be forgiven for assuming this means products are 100% clean. Other statements on their website, such as their banners on their main page, using words like "clean" and "assurance". One even says "Look for the logo to source tested supplements" but they know some manufacturers are using their logo without going through their testing procedures. I'm aware it'll be their PR/Ads department who come up with these things, not the analysts, but I do wonder if things like this could lead them to being held liable if, and I know it's a massively unlikely if, something slips through the cracks.


We have adopted a beyond the norm approach to minimise the risk as much as possible, but we have had to really make it central to our ethos. We do batch testing, therefore we minimise risk. Then we go the extra mile and have our factory tested too. Then we go upstream into the supply chain and audit supplier systems. It costs a lot of money and time. I'm not saying this to show off at all, I'm saying it to illustrate that making the athlete safe isn't a small undertaking. Our batch test + factory test + supplier audit reduces risk to an unbelievably low level ... but it doesn't reduce it completely. You may be in - say - one a billion territory. But you're not in zero risk territory.
That's very interesting as it's approaching the levels that the MHRA would require if you were producing pharmaceuticals (possibly even equivalent?). Do you get any special recognition for this extended testing? Again, I had a poke around on your website and couldn't find much on testing. The added assurance of testing supply streams and the manufacturing facility seems like something that athletes and coaches should know about. I'm guessing this is discussed with the people you work with, but aspiring athletes and local coaches could make good use of that information, particularly local coaches.

Remember we are in a world where many manufacturers can't or won't spend that much time or effort. Indeed some notable brands have recently backed out of testing. And some make misleading claims as to where they sit in the hierarchy of rigorous systems. The industry needs to get its act together.
It sounds like you could end up fighting a lone battle there if people are backing out and making mis-leading claims. I wonder how much IS chase this down?

On your point on an ADAMS type system. You can look at a batch number on one of our products and type it into the Informed Sport system and you will see the test certificate. And there will be a retained sample too. The system is in place and available to any athlete.
I know, I actually went and checked some SIS stuff I have at home. Interestingly, High5, the other brand I have at home, claim an IS certified facility, but they don't appear on the IS site unless I missed them. They will sell you specifically certified batches though so maybe this is why.

My suggestion about ADAMs was more to bring supplements in line with other products that are monitored. The IS database could be integrated into the system and it could all be logged centrally. It would mean buy-in would be required from the governing bodies though, which sounds unlikely at the moment.

On residual risk in the system. Poor athlete you might say. Not so sure. If my livelihood and repuation depended on checking my nutrition, you bet your life I would. The cynic in me wonders how much the industry is a punchbag for the lazy or cheating athlete. I know we had a case of an athlete trying to point at us for a positive and we rolled out our system and records and all of a sudden the athlete was blaming food. I said the industry needs to get its act together, but athletes need to as well.
I'm 100% sure there are athletes who want to use the contaminated supplement as an excuse, either for their own lack of checking or to try and hide actual doping. However, I do think that we are looking at this kind of thing from our own biased position. We both work in areas that require extensive knowledge of this kind of testing and as such we fully understand the processes, levels of risk and what you need to do to minimise that risk as much as possible . I don't think it's fair to assume that athletes are always capable of this. As I mentioned further up, IS make a point of telling people to look for their logo, but they are aware it is being mis-used. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are athletes out there who truly think that if they see that logo they're guaranteed a clean product. It would certainly be an interesting survey to carry out anyway.


Governing bodies need to get their acts together too. "Don't use supplements" is a head in the sand or "look, over there!" approach to banned substances. An elite athlete needs to get food right first. Once that is maxed out, then get sports nutrition right. Finally supplements as the final few % points for the very elite. These three elements will always be there and there is risk in all three elements. So saying don't use two of them (because they seem to interchange supplements and sports nutrition) isn't realistic. You ain't going to get enought calories and nutrients in to cycle TdF off three square meals a day.
This leads to a more general, non-doping related discussion. I'm afraid my knowledge of the literature around this is lacking, so I'll defer to you and assume that someone not using supplements cannot compete with someone who is using supplements. If no-one were using supplements though and only eating food (and there is still risk here, clenbuterol in farm animals for example) would we see a greater number of people dropping out of the TdF, or would we just see slower racing? I'm not suggesting this is a way forward, just wondering if this is where the governing bodies are coming from.
 
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Some governing bodies are trying to make things easier for athletes, German NADA for example has a list of tested supplements that should be clean that gets updated on a regular basis, the Kölner Liste/Cologne List.
https://www.koelnerliste.com/en/product-database.html
I believe that that's the right way and it gives cheaters less options to blame tainted supplements.
Same thing with Informed Sport - https://www.informed-sport.com/sites/default/files/Informed-Sport Tested Products August 2 2019.pdf - plus you can also look at individual batch certificates
 
Here's one I didn't know: Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson sued supplement manufacturer Dynamic Life Nutrition for $8m after both popped positives which they blamed on supplements. The case was settled out of court.
I seem to remember something around this, I'm sure I saw footage of Powell receiving vitamin injections during training. I found that pretty worrying. I can understand athletes accidentally taking a contaminated supplement orally, but seeing athletes having injections as part of their training regime definitely makes me wonder. It's possible they weren't related though, Epiphany D1 seems to be an oral brain suuplement, although information is sparse.
 
Here's one I didn't know: Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson sued supplement manufacturer Dynamic Life Nutrition for $8m after both popped positives which they blamed on supplements. The case was settled out of court.
Interesting approach by the athletes. Did they have an endorsement sponsorship as well? Seems like runners at that level would be super-careful.
On a different note; just heard about a pro-tri person that had a minor excess for CBD. The sanction was light but it cost all of the sponsorship the athlete relied on. Another "dosing" inaccuracy that is even more likely with the Wild West of pot products.
 

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