Was Ryan Lochte's Vitamin Infusion Blunder Really Worth a 14 Month Ban?

by Jeremy Hickmans
2nd Aug 2018

With the news of Ryan Lochtes’ 14 month suspension for IV Vitamin use, the question of supplement use in sports and the wider society once again comes under the microscope.

Dietary and performance supplements in many forms have been common place for a number of years, but over the last few years we have seen an inordinate proliferation of readily available lifestyle interventions and supplements with the supplement industry expected to grow to a $60 billion industry by the year 2021. These are marketed to the wider society in ways that promise anything from weight loss to extreme muscle development, hormone boosters to specific metabolic augmentation, anti-aging to accelerated injury healing. One needs only to visit the nearest shopping mall, website or walk through the “health food’ aisle in the local supermarket to understand the range and variety of supplements and health procedures that are now available to the regular consumer.

So, just how can we be certain that we are investing in methods that can actually benefit our bodies, help us reach our goals and do this in a legal, health conscious manner? And, for athletes, how can we be sure that our immediate sporting future and professional brand, not to mention our long term health and wellbeing, is not being compromised or exploited by so called experts or well meaning mates taking advantage of the desire to win?

  • Talk to a professional
    Whether you’re a full time athlete or couch potato, consult a qualified professional before commencing on a supplement or health intervention protocol. This may be your doctor or dietitian but the ‘expert’ at the local shops would not be recommended. You will find that most professionals should take an educated but sceptical approach to supplementation and will have a deep understanding of their proven benefits and validated effects.
  • Determine your goal
    How often do we take supplements without a good understanding of why or what we are trying to achieve? I often refer to this as the ‘shotgun’ approach. Instead of understanding what are aiming for and how we can best get there, taking ‘one of everything’ will surely have some benefit!! With our athletes, we are strong on identifying goals and individualising protocols designed to achieve best results with minimum intervention. The first question to ask is whether this can be achieved by dietary changes (e.g. increased protein intake) and then supplement (rather than substitute) from there.
  • Be aware of the potential side effects and legality
    There is no doubt that the supplement and health industry has grown exponentially over the last few years, leaving behind the ability to regulate claims and even control supplement composition. In Australia, medicinal products containing such ingredients as herbs, vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements are regulated as medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989. However, this does not ensure the quality or purity of the ingredients involved to the extent that comprehensive batch testing and rigorous manufacturing standards are the only way to ensure acceptable product composition and to reduce the risk of contamination. To this end, it is advisable to do your research on and work with reputable, high end companies that take every step to ensure your risk is minimised.

DID YOU KNOW... Supplements are one of the leading causes of failed anti-doping tests in Australia with approximately one athlete testing positive every month?

As an athlete the website Globaldro.com provides and invaluable service allowing athletes and support personnel to check the legality of many over the counter and prescription medicines. But, as a general rule: if it's too good to be true, it usually is!!

  • 300% increase in recovery; 
  • Proven To Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels By Up To 800%;
  • Look 10 years younger in one week.

These are all claims that we have seen in advertising campaigns, but can they really be true? I’m pretty sure that if they were everyone would be using them and they would have been adopted into mainstream medicine a long time ago!! Look for the research and validation in any claims – endorsement by a celebrity is not affirmation of effect….

So, by following these guidelines can we ensure everything we do is correct? Absolutely not.

Simply be aware that there are a huge amount of supplements and health interventions on the marketplace competing for you dollar. As recommended by the Australian Anti-Doping Agency do your supplement and product analysis.

  • Has it been tested?
  • Is it safe?
  • Is it effective (in improving performance)?
  • Is it necessary?

And remember, whatever you take is YOUR responsibility – make an informed and considered choice

(and probably don’t post it on social media!!)

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