Why is batch testing so important: Professor Graeme Close

Why is batch testing so important: Professor Graeme Close

Why do I insist on supplements being “batch tested” – and not just for the elite athletes?

A recent development to the “Get Buzzing” bars is the appearance of all of the High Protein bars on the “Informed Sport” register http://www.informed-sport.com.

I am absolutely delighted about this and it gives me even more confidence in the range.


But what is “Informed Sport”, why do we need to batch test products and what does it mean for you?

As you will be aware elite athletes are regularly and randomly screened by UKAD (in the UK) to ensure they are not taking any performance enhancing drugs. However, in recent years, one of the biggest reasons for a positive result from these tests is not deliberate cheating but rather inadvertent doping caused by contamination of sports supplements with prohibited substances http://ukad.org.uk/education/support-personnel/clean-sport-essentials/ with far too many examples of athletes suffering from this most unfortunate outcome http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/wales/30880411.

When it comes to supplements is has been suggested that as many as 1 in 4 supplements bought over the internet have the potential to result in an anti-doping violation. Even if an athlete can prove that this was from inadvertent doping (supplement contamination), rather than deliberate cheating, they would still receive a 2 year suspension from all sport. If they would not prove this was inadvertent it could be a 4 year suspension. And in recent years, the rules have now changed in that athlete support personnel could also face sanctions of they are found guilty of providing the prohibited substances.

It is therefore more important than ever that athletes have confidence in the supplements they are taking. When it comes to supplement contamination there are several reasons that this can occur. One way is that lesser brands may deliberately add prohibited substances to their product to try and improve its reputation. For example, a pre-workout formula could have been deliberately contaminated with methyhexaneamine to improve its effectiveness yet it may not state this on the label. Whilst this is unusual, what is not as uncommon is poor manufacturing processes could result in a prohibited substance cross contaminating a non-prohibited product.

For example, a factory could be making a product that contains methylhexaneamine on a Monday and then a straight forward whey protein on a Tuesday. If the pipes and facilities are not thoroughly cleaned there is a chance that cross contamination can take place. It is therefore clear that taking any supplement or fortified food presents somewhat of a risk to athletes and therefore it is my job as a sports nutritionist to do everything I can to minimise the risk – and registering products on Informed Sport in my opinion is the best way to reduce the risk.

The Informed Sport programme ensures that every batch of product made has been independently screened for contaminants at the world renowned LGC laboratory. Whilst it is not possible to screen for every possible contaminant, LGC screens for the vast majority and to my knowledge to date there has not been a case of a product to date on the Informed Sport subsequently being shown to contain prohibited substances.

The Informed Sport programme also involves checks of the manufacturing site and other quality assurance processes giving an athlete the best possible protection available. I must stress that there is no programme that can be 100% guaranteed but this in my opinion is as near as we can get. I should also point out that given the reputation of Informed Sport, some lesser companies are now using their logo without testing so it is crucial that people also check the Informed Sport website to check that the product is indeed registered.

At the beginning, I said this is also important for non-tested athletes – why?

Well would you really want to be eating a product that has been deliberately or accidentally spiked with anabolic steroids? I certainly would not, and therefore I only recommend products that have either been screened by LGC or are in the Informed Sport programme.

I hope this has helped to clarify the issues with supplement contamination and the steps needed to reduce the associated risks.

Now that Get Buzzing bars are on the register, it gives me even more confidence to use them with my elite athletes as well as personally with myself and my family. Good luck in your training