Common natural anabolics used in sports supplements may be banned substances

Several natural anabolics are common muscle-building supplement ingredients today, but they also may qualify as banned substances in sports

Oliver Catlin, President

June 25, 2019

2 Min Read
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Natural anabolics represent a new frontier in muscle building supplements. Many of these natural anabolics have been researched for their potential to act as myostatin inhibitors, which is one of the newest and least defined categories of prohibited substances in sport. These natural anabolic agents, which appear to comply with dietary supplement regulations, create a new dilemma when it comes to interpretation of what is or is not prohibited in sport, military or workplace drug testing.

Through effective regulatory encouragement, industry group action and willing compliance, hardcore muscle-building supplements are evolving away from exploiting gaps and illegitimate ingredients toward naturally derived ingredients that comply with dietary supplement regulations. Natural anabolics are substances present in nature that can be extracted, processed or concentrated, and are often evaluated for specific muscle-building effects, such as myostatin inhibition.

Myostatin inhibitors represent one of the newest and least defined categories of prohibited substance in sport. The 2019 World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List includes them under S4 - Hormone and Metabolic Modulators, specifically in S4.4. Myostatin inhibitors are also prohibited by most other sporting agencies. As is often the case with new categories that are added to prohibited substance lists, the effects are prohibited, but few specific examples are provided.

This latest frontier in natural anabolic muscle-building supplements is often concentrated on managing sarcopenia and cachexia, muscle-wasting conditions typically associated with old age or cancer. This expanded focus may heighten consumer demand among an older population. The potential for these products to build muscle has also made them attractive options for competitive athletes and the larger consumer population. After all, building muscle is appealing to everyone.

Many plants or naturally derived substances have been explored for their natural anabolic potential as myostatin inhibitors. The 2019 WADA Prohibited List specifically includes, “Agents reducing or ablating myostatin expression.”

This article is an abridged version of the article “Natural myostatin addressing sarcopenia and cachexia a new frontier in muscle building supplements.” Download INSIDER’s Sports Nutrition Muscle Building digital magazine to read the full article that includes a list of natural anabolics that are common muscle-building supplement ingredients today, but up for interpretation whether they may qualify as banned substances in sport.

Oliver Catlin is president of BSCG a third-party certification and testing provider focused on banned substances, quality control and GMP (good manufacturing practice) compliance offering services to the nutrition and natural product industries.

About the Author(s)

Oliver Catlin

President, Banned Substances Control Group

Oliver Catlin is the longtime president and co-founder of BSCG (Banned Substances Control Group), a leading international third-party certification and testing provider. With a background in sports anti-doping, he is widely regarded as a thought leader in the field of sports nutrition and dietary supplements.

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