Drugs in Sport: Nutritional supplements warning: Worries voiced about over-the-counter performance boosters

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The Independent Online
A WARNING over the potential dangers of nutritional supplements was sounded yesterday by Peter Radford, chairman of the Sports Council's drug abuse advisory group.

He described the increasing use of over-the-counter supplements to boost performances as 'a slippery slope - a sinister development'.

He added: 'A lot of top sports people are being sucked into this in a nave way. They have a growing belief that training is not enough and there has to be something extra.

'It is causing great concern because there is no scientific evidence to confirm a safe, recommended daily dose. So it is difficult to give clear advice in respect of the doping regulations.'

Many leading British athletes, including Colin Jackson, Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell, have taken nutritional supplements. Jackson and Christie have used Musashi, a pure protein - 100 per cent amino acid - in powder form. Jackson and Gunnell have in the past used creatin, which helps restore muscle tissue broken down by exercise. Jackson has described creatin as: 'A muscle fuel. It is no more than an amino acid.'

Radford's comments may meet with some resistance from athletes coping with levels of training more rigorous than those which existed generally when he was Britain's top sprinter in the early 1960s.

Radford was presenting annual figures which showed that Council testers unearthed 58 banned substances in 1992-93, compared with 75 the previous year.

The drop was welcomed, but Radford also expressed concern at the high prevailing level of anabolic steroid-taking - particularly among recreational body-builders in unlicensed gyms.

A total of 4,158 samples were taken in 53 sports in 1992-93. Of these, 747 were out-of-competition. The Council's annual spending on the testing - currently pounds 841,000 - will top pounds 1m within three years.