PLEASE NOTE: The medical opinions in USTA.com's Ask the High Performance Lab are responses intended for the average player. Please consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise program.
The answers to this week's "Ask the Expert" column come from Scott Riewald, PhD. Dr. Riewald is the USTA Administrator of Sport Science. Dr. Riewald and the Sport Science staff work with Coaching Education to provide information to the coaches of top American players through seminars, workshops and newsletters.
|Scott works closely with the Coaching Education and Strength and Conditioning staff within High Performance, as well as the USTA Sport Science Committee, to collect and disseminate information related to sport science and tennis. Scott is also a Certifie© USTA|
Q: Can you please list the banned substances/ supplements for me? I train several Juniors and they want to take some nutritional supplements. Along with the WADA list, are there any other nutritional supplements that are banned (glutamine, creatine, etc.). Please send this info to me so I can inform these young athletes and their families.
How much are the sports enhancement drugs, like the ones we see in supplement stores are the players taking and what is the ATP and the WTA doing to watch over the players to make sure that no illegal drugs are being taken?
-- Vince Bell, Deerfield Beach, FL
Dr. Riewald: The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) banned substance list is the gold standard on which drug testing in tennis is based. This list is followed by the ITF (which is taking over drug testing at ATP sanctioned events) and the US Anti-Doping Agency and highlights the substances that are presently banned from competition and training.
The question you ask about supplements purchased from a store is a good one - many of these substances are not on the banned list and there are numerous claims (many made by the manufacturers) that state how performance can be improved. The thing to realize is while the supplement itself may not be banned, you have to ask what else is in the bottle that is not listed on the label.
A study done several years ago by the International Olympic Committee showed that of 634 supplements randomly selected from around the world, 15% of them contained substances that were not listed on the label and would have caused a positive drug test if a player had taken the supplement and subsequently been tested. Of the supplements tested from the United States, 18% were found to contain banned substances that were not listed on the labels.
The USTA does not advocate supplement use simply because of the risks involved and the potentially negative consequences that could result - a first offense for using a banned substance is a 2-year suspension from tennis and ignorance/ not knowing you took a tainted supplement is not an excuse.
A good resource to look at for information on supplements is the Australian Institute of Sport Nutrition website. Here they break supplements down into four categories:
A. "Legal supplements" that provide a useful and timely source of energy and nutrients to a player and for which scientific evidence exists suggesting they could help athletic performance.
B. Supplements for which there is no conclusive evidence that they enhance athletic performance, but remain of interest.
C. "Legal supplements" for which there is no evidence exists that suggests they could benefit athletic performance.
D. Banned substances not permitted for use by athletes.
Testing is regularly conducted at ATP and WTA events and in the past year several players have been banned from tennis. Mariano Puerta from Argentina, for example, tested positive for an amphetamine/ stimulant and was banned from tennis for 8 years, as this was a second offense.
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