Untested Supplement Use Among Athletes: An Overlooked Phenomenon?

Attilio Negri, Honor D. Townshend, Ornella Corazza

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the past decade, untested dietary supplements have become more available on the market with a vast increase in their use by amateur and elite athletes to improve their professional sport performances. These supplements are often advertised online and elsewhere with misleading marketing strategies as “natural” and “safe” compounds. They include a wide range of products, such as sports foods (e.g., gels, bars, drinks, protein powders); ergogenic, herbal and botanical supplements; vitamins; minerals; amino acids; and weight-loss substances, among others, and are sometimes sold without any previous demonstration of their safety and efficacy, making this a highly profitable and loosely regulated marketplace. In this chapter we explore how this phenomenon poses unprecedented challenges to the anti-doping community and its values. It argues how one of such challenges stems from athletes reportedly testing positive for doping due to the intake of products, which were poorly labelled or contaminated with prohibited compounds. It explains how.. the scenario is further complicated by the rise of online markets, fora and social media communities, where athletes have found rapid and “safe” virtual spaces to exchange information on how to boost their performances by using drugs. A comprehensive overview of motivations of use, patterns of consumption, perceived risks and perceived side effects of untested supplement intake without clinical supervision is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging Drugs in Sport
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783030792930
ISBN (Print)9783030792923
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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