Canadian Inspectors’ Report Reaffirms Supplement Risk


(Ottawa, Ontario – May 6, 2005) – In light of recent media announcements regarding a report by Canadian food inspectors that finds most sport nutrition products break federal regulations, the CCES would like to remind athletes and the sport community to seek professional advice before consuming supplements and sports foods. 

A national blitz conducted last fall by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) revealed that, out of a sample of 165 meal replacements and nutritional supplements purchased at retail locations across the country, 71% did not comply with Canadian laws regarding labelling and contents. Some products’ labels were lacking nutritional information or expiry dates, or made claims about the product that are not permitted. Some products contained prohibited ingredients and broke government rules around product composition. (“Most nutrition products break federal regulations,” Paul Waldie, the Globe and Mail, May 2, 2005, 

This latest report reaffirms the CCES’ long-held assertion that the content and labeling of many supplements and sports foods is questionable at best.  As a result, it is very difficult for athletes and athlete support personnel to distinguish doping-free, safe and effective supplements.  

Until efforts are put into place by regulators to assure proper labeling and reporting of ingredients, the CCES must continue to advise athletes about the risks of using supplements. Athletes use supplements at their own risk of providing a sample which leads to an adverse analytical finding and committing an anti-doping rule violation. 

Athletes choosing to use supplements can help to manage the existing risks of supplement use by taking these actions: 

  1. Always seek professional advice before using a supplement. Team physicians and sport nutritionists are excellent resources and can be contacted through your sport organization or Canadian Sport Centre.  If these professionals are not available to you, you should seek advice from a pharmacist. 

    Always make sure the professional knows of the risks associated with supplement use and reviews the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List before providing advice. The CCES’ Substance Classification Handbook applies the WADA list to the Canadian market, and can be downloaded at

  2. Consider whether you need to use a supplement by determining if you have other options such as changes to your diet or nutrition program.
  3. Never use a supplement just because a teammate or competitor is using it or recommends it.
  4. Don't start or change a supplement regime in the run-up to a major competition unless you’ve consulted with a professional.
  5. Supplements fall into a wide spectrum of types with the level of risk being lower at one end of the spectrum and higher at the other. Vitamins and minerals usually warrant less concern than those products that rely on claims related to performance benefits (e.g., muscle building, fat burning). Examples of substances that are prohibited and may appear in supplements from time to time are: DHEA, Ephedrine, Androstenedione/diol, Amphetamines, and Ma Huang.
  6. There is always an increased risk of doping when supplements are purchased through non-traditional means such as: over the internet, through magazines or directly from a non-licensed supplier. Products purchased from a trusted retailer or directly from a reputable manufacturer are likely to be associated with lower risk of inadvertent doping. If possible, determine if the manufacturer produces any products containing substances from the WADA Prohibited List – if so, there will be a higher risk of cross-contamination between products.  Given a choice of suppliers, choose a product from a company that also manufactures pharmaceuticals.
  7. Always follow the recommended dosage and route of administration as indicated on the product label. Be especially cautious of potential negative interactions if consuming more than one supplement product at a time. Use supplement products like you would any over-the-counter medication - for example, if the recommended dose is one tablet, two or more may be unhelpful, counter-productive or even dangerous.
  8. Keep a log of your supplement use (like your training log), including the batch or lot numbers of the product and when they were consumed. Always keep some of the contents from each container of supplements in case a problem arises that requires the product to be investigated. Although keeping this information will not be deemed as a valid defence in the case of an anti-doping rule violation, it may provide you with sufficient evidence to seek compensation from the manufacturer.
  9. Find out if the manufacturer is prepared to stand behind its products if they cause an anti-doping rule violation. Does the manufacturer offer any form of guarantee or compensation? What proof does the manufacturer require to qualify for that compensation? If the manufacturer does offer a guarantee, always obtain a letter of confirmation signed by a senior official from the company.
  10. Major events such as the Olympic/Paralympic Games are an excellent opportunity to advocate the necessity of safe supplement usage. When possible, use your experience at these events to speak to individuals in positions of influence about the importance of practical and concrete solutions to reduce the risks to athletes. 

The CCES is an independent, national, non-profit organization. Our mission, to promote ethical conduct in all aspects of sport in Canada, is carried out through research, promotion, education, detection and deterrence, as well as through programs and partnerships with other organizations.


For further information, please contact Claire Buffone-Blair,
Regional Manager, Sport System Development at (403) 471-6378.

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For further information, please contact:

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