One in ten Greek teen athletes using contaminated supplements, study finds


16 Apr 2018 --- One in ten adolescent athletes are using nutritional supplements contaminated with doping substances, a study has found. The study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, revealed a high overall usage of supplement products amongst adolescent athletes in Athens, with proteins/amino acids and vitamins leading the way in popularity. However, the items, often purchased online, were contaminated with banned substances at a rate of nine percent.

The contaminants consisted of the banned substances, anabolic steroids, prohormones, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) and aromatase inhibitors, all of which are pharmacological substances with endocrine modulating properties which were not stated on the label of the product.

The study was conducted among 170 recreational adolescent athletes from various gyms across Athens. Of the atheletes, 60 percent were consuming supplements.

The researchers concluded that exercising adolescents have easy access to contaminated nutritional supplements and “black market” products, which could constitute a risk for public health. Low level of awareness and low involvement of medical care professionals among recreational adolescent athletes was noted as problematic.

A recent review, published in Nutrients, sought to explore the ”unintentional doping” in sports that has occurred due to the huge increase in usage of dietary supplements among athletes. This study, conducted by the Research Group on Food and Nutrition, University of Alicante, also found rates of doping contaminations in supplements – mostly prohormones and/or stimulants – to be between 12 and 15 percent.

Researchers from this study reinforce that this is a real issue and one that must be acknowledged, particularly by the sporting world. The researchers recommended for current legislation to better regulate the market, and for the awareness of both athletes and coaches to be increased. In this way, better sources can be picked, which could, in turn, reduce the risk of contaminated, unreliable products.

NutritionInsight has previously covered products that carry the “Informed Sport” certification, which actively informs consumers about the safety of their sports, or nutritional, supplement, and holds a guarantee that the product is contamination free. 

The certification is particularly valuable for athletes as contaminated supplements can result in “positive” results on doping tests. However, not all products bear such a guarantee and regulations may not be active across all products available on the internet and “black-market” purchases.

Regarding the recreational Greek athletes in the study, it was pointed out by researchers that the individuals were using the supplements by choice, and it can be inferred that the whereabouts of their purchase was also by choice, i.e. from the internet. This study arguably brings to the fore a consideration over the responsibility of manufacturers and consumers alike in providing, and buying, safety guaranteed products.

By Laxmi Haigh

To contact our editorial team please email us at

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Fish-rich diet during pregnancy may boost baby's brain development

21 Sep 2018 --- Regularly eating fatty fish during pregnancy could boost the development of an unborn child's eyesight and brain function, according to a small-scale study led by Kirsi Laitinen of the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland. Published in the journal Pediatric Research, the results support previous findings that show how important a mother's diet and lifestyle choices during pregnancy are for the development of her baby.

Health & Nutrition News

More needs to be done to address food marketing to kids, says US consumer group 

21 Sep 2018 --- The Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) has released updates to its self-regulatory program to address food marketing to children. The updates include progress toward lower sodium targets and clearer added sugars labeling. Although 18 prominent food, beverage and restaurant companies have pledged to adopt the updates, US lobby group the Center for the Science in Public Interest (CSPI) has criticized the updates for failing to heed expert advice.

Health & Nutrition News

UK yogurt sugar content often well above recommended threshold, survey finds

21 Sep 2018 --- Many yogurts sold in UK supermarkets contain high levels of sugar, a survey published in BMJ has highlighted. Researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Surrey analyzed the product information of 921 yogurts and found that organic yogurts and those marketed towards children, in particular, had high levels of sugar. Fewer than 9 percent of products surveyed contained less than the 5 g of sugar per 100 grams threshold required to be classed “low sugar” and carry a green “traffic light” nutritional label in the UK. As such, reformulation for the reduction of free sugars in yogurts is warranted.

Health & Nutrition News

Weekly Roundup: Fermentalg and DSM partner on omega 3, Curcumin gut health benefits

21 Sep 2018 --- The weekly roundup is NutritionInsight's collection of global nutrition stories from the past week. Fermentalg and DSM Nutritional Products entered a five-year commercial agreement for omega 3 products. Research has found that Sabinsa's curcumin products can have a positive effect on gut health, while analysis highlighted the need for more accurate cranberry authentication tools. Mühlenchemie’s Chinese production facility has been certified to supply fortified foods to the UN World Food Programme.

Health & Nutrition News

Nestlé to explore strategic options for Skin Health unit, reaffirms importance of Health Science division

20 Sep 2018 --- Nestlé is exploring strategic options for its Skin Health unit, after the company’s board concluded that the future growth opportunities of Nestlé Skin Health increasingly lie outside the group’s strategic scope. The company has come under increased pressure from shareholders to overhaul its strategy following disappointing 2017 results, with the company reporting its lowest sales growth in more than two decades. The strategic review is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

More Articles