【Advisory Notes】IOC tackles the topic of nutritional supplements, their use and their effect

In view of the widespread usage of dietary supplements among elite athletes and the general population, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical and Scientific Commission, which is committed to supporting the health and performance of athletes, has convened a three-day meeting to discuss the effects of dietary supplements on athletes’ health and performances, and the risk of contamination that may lead to anti-doping rule violation.

The following conclusions are drawn:

  1. Diet significantly influences athletic performance, but the use of supplements does not compensate for poor food choices and an inadequate diet.
  2. Supplementation with essential nutrients may be beneficial if a specific nutrient deficiency is medically diagnosed and a food-based solution cannot be easily implemented.
  3. A few supplements, from the many thousands of different products on the market, may provide performance or health-related benefits for some athletes in some types of sports, when optimum training, nutrition and recovery are already achieved.
  4. Quality assurance in supplement manufacture, storage and distribution is sometimes not strictly enforced, leading to products that are of poor quality or contaminated.

The Committee recommends athletes who are contemplating the use of supplements and sports foods to consider their efficacy, their cost, the risk to health and performance, and the possibility that undeclared contaminants present in some supplements may cause an adverse analytical finding. Expert professional advice should be sought before embarking on supplement use.

Source: IOC Website