(CBSDFW.COM) – During the college football playoffs, three Clemson Tigers were suspended after testing positive for a trace amount of a banned substance. The program maintains the players do not know how it happened. Their coach, at the time said the three young athletes had “not intentionally done anything.”
The Post and Courier reportedCoach Dabo Swinney says the university’s legal team is looking into all possibilities including the chance that Clemson itself gave players something they thought was cleared by the NCAA.
“The NCAA and the World Anti-Doping Agency have their own separate lists of banned substances and athletes really do need to be aware of what they’re taking and the potential risks of what they’re taking,” says Noel Williams.
Williams is a performance dietitian for EXOS in partnership with Children’s Health Andrews Institute.
She works with athletes to educate them on how to best fuel and hydrate their bodies to see the best performance.
She says when choosing supplements, checking the ingredients list is not a guarantee that a product is free of banned substances.
“A number of studies have come out over the years that have shown as much as 12 percent to 58 percent of samples tested, have contained banned and prohibited substances,” Williams explains.
While Williams did not work with the suspended Clemson athletes, she says unintentional doping does happen.
“It’s very common for athletes to not be aware and to have doping violations due to unintentional doping,” says Williams.
Supplements are generally unregulated by the FDA, but ultimately, the responsibility falls on student athletes to be aware.
“If you have a positive drug test, the manufacturer of your supplement is not held responsible. You as the athlete will be held responsible and that could mean penalties, fines and loss of sponsorships,” says Williams.
More importantly, banned substances can affect cardiovascular health, hormone health and even lead to death.
Products may make big claims like improving endurance and strength, but beyond the ingredients list–it’s often what’s not on the label that Williams says, should give you pause.
“The biggest telltale sign is just the absence of any kind of third party testing. Without that, you really have no guarantee that what you see on the label, is actually, what’s inside the product,” Williams explains.
Williams says the gold standard for sports dietitians is the NSF Certified for Sport label.
That label indicates to the consumer that scientists have screened the product for more than 270 banned or prohibited substances. You can also use the mobile app to check products you use, against its list.
These are other trusted certifications you can look for:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children and teens avoid using performance-enhancing substances, not just because of safety concerns, but because they are unnecessary.
“For young athletes, the benefits they’re going to get from eating real food, hydrating properly, getting enough sleep at night are going to far outweigh any benefits they might get from a supplement.”