In many sports, world-class athletes compete under a code of conduct that prohibits the use of specified drugs and related compounds. These sports use a system of drug testing to monitor compliance with this code. For as long as I can remember, when an athlete tests dirty, there is always speculation that these positive tests have resulted from the use of supplements rather than deliberate use of these banned substances. In a day and age of cheaters in sports, most notably Lance Armstrong, I take extreme exception to those athletes that use dietary supplements as a scapegoat for their wrongdoing.
And I encourage readers of this blog to not be influenced by the despicable actions of certain marquis athletes who choose to blame an industry I dearly love.
I have been an athlete all my life. I am the farthest thing from a world-class athlete. Nonetheless, I have spent countless hours swimming, cycling running and in the weight room. Ironically, I began my endurance racing in 1982 at the age of 22 sitting in front of the television. That afternoon, I had my "it" moment. I saw a world-class triathlete, Julie Moss, stagger to the finish line in the 1982 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. I had never witnessed such determination, drive, and will to succeed. She would not be denied. She changed my world forever.
Fast forward 30 years. During this time, two of my greatest passions became exercise and nutrition. I have competed in approximately 300 endurance events, from ultra marathons to marathons to triathlons to long-distance rough water swims. And I have become an avid taker of supplements. In fact, I credit my voracious consumption of supplements to my longevity in events that are notoriously very hard on the body.
I have worked in the natural products industry for 15 years. There are thousands of wonderful products on the market that have a profound impact on performance, health, wellness, and longevity. And many of these products are supported by sound scientific research data. The natural products industry is full of world-class researchers, scientists, and health professionals. I have worked with so many of them. Every so often, there are isolated incidents of misconduct by a few rogue supplement makers. Every industry has these types of people and companies.
The brilliant people that make up this industry will continue to rise above the lies spouted by so many of our revered athletes. These people continue to create dietary supplements that are backed by legitimate science. To illustrate this point, when searched online for the nitric oxide booster Arginine on PubMed, no less than 213 studies are posted.
In the past, the use of dietary supplements by athletes has been cited as a concern by coaches and trainers that support these athletes because the manufacturing and labeling of supplements have not had uniform guidelines. However, with increased FDA oversight and implementation of cGMPs (among other certifications), incidents of a supplement containing an undeclared substance have become rare.
Most athletes that test positive continue to attribute the dirty tests to the misuse of supplements. Thankfully, an athletes negligence is not an adequate defense in a doping hearing. And, true to form, the industry continues to rise above all of this by creating efficacious products supported by solid science.
That said, I enthusiastically continue to take my supplements every day. I will continue to sing the praises of the people that make up this industry. At 52 years of age, I can only report that my supplement regimen has been very successful for my endurance racing and overall health.
True, you cant put blinders on. Do your due diligence on manufacturers and their products. Read labels. All companies claim to be science-based. That is part of the marketing mantra. In the end, it is up to us to make informed choices that make sense for our personal health and wellness. And I have every confidence the industry will continue to demonstrate unabated integrity despite what certain misguided athletes may claim.