The drug trap: Former gold medallist Darren Campbell warns that failed drugs tests may be caused by companies catering for body-builders


British athletes heading to Moscow for the World Championships next weekend are risking a similar fate to the absentee star sprinters Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay if they are taking dietary supplements, some of which may have been contaminated by products designed for body-builders.

There is a growing concern that substances used in body-building, where there is no official testing for performance-enhancing drugs, have infiltrated supplements taken by other athletes unaware of their illegality. Britain's former Olympic gold and silver medallist sprinter Darren Campbell is among those who accept that the claims made by Jamaica's Powell and American Gay that their failed tests were due to unknowingly taking contaminated substances given by their advisers may have some merit.

He believes that products which are intended for body-builders are increasingly available in over-the-counter or online supplements in a guise which makes them appear legitimate. "The biggest problem is some companies who make legal products for sports people also make illegal products for the body- building market. So what Powell and Gay are saying is quite feasible. I think there is a good chance they are telling the truth."

The 39-year-old Campbell, now a Sky TV presenter and sprint coach to newly promoted Premier League club Cardiff City, has inside knowledge of the supplement industry. For seven years he has run a sports nutrient business with John Williams, nutritionist to the Welsh rugby team and British Lions. They also supply dietary products to 18 Premier League football clubs and the world champion boxer Nathan Cleverly.

"We thoroughly test all the original ingredients, some of which may come from China and Europe, before they are blended and manufactured," Campbell says. "Then the finished product is again checked by a company in Cambridge who do the official tests for the sports organisations. The big companies like Maximuscle will get their products tested by them.

"The public need to understand the difference between performance-enhancing drugs and nutrient products. We only source our products from companies that do not make illegal substances but I suspect there are some that don't."

Campbell's belief that the use of contaminated supplements is a major problem is endorsed by the pole-vault legend Sergey Bubka, now a candidate for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee. The Ukrainian told The Independent on Sunday that his advice to athletes is: stop taking tablets. "The supplement industry has become a huge multi-million dollar business and the athletes are not protected. We advise and educate them but in the end it is their responsibility what goes into their bodies.

"There is enough information available to avoid this sort of thing, but the answer is simple: don't use them. Just take regular vitamins. A lot of these supplements are manufactured in the United States where there is no longer a requirement to provide clear information about what is contained in the tablet.

"When a small factory produces substances, they can include some medicines that contain steroids. They may try to wash them out but they do not clean very well and instead they contaminate. Who pays the price? The athlete."

Ian Musgrave, senior lecturer in pharmacology at the University of Adelaide, says that Powell's defence of "never knowingly" taking drugs is a "very real possibility" and that contamination is widespread. One report found 70 per cent of weight-loss supplements contained ingredients not listed on the label.

Powell's test revealed a synthetic stimulant, oxilofrine, used as a fat-burner which, as a natural product, is found in extracts of bitter orange. This was also the substance used by a number of positively tested British boxers, including the former WBA world middleweight champion Brian Magee, who served a six-month suspension. He escaped the customary two-year ban because he showed the substance was an unlabelled ingredient in a sports supplement designed for body-builders.

Michele Verroken, the former UK Sport anti-doping chief who now runs the advisory organisation Sporting Integrity, says the supplement controversy is not a new phenomenon. "If you think back to 1998-99 when we had all those nandrolone positives, it's exactly the same scenario," she says. "The supplement market remains unregulated to the same level you have with licensed medicine. The question is whether industry-led standards are as comprehensive as they need to be to prevent contamination which may be accidental or even deliberate."

Campbell, a vehement anti-drugs campaigner, says a time he spent away from athletics trying to make a career as a footballer was spurred by attempts by "certain individuals" to draw him into a drugs programme. Now he warns the goalposts have shifted, and that athletes are in danger of becoming unwitting victims of rogue manufacturers whose products may seriously harm their health. "These people don't care about the welfare of athletes. For them, it's just about making money."

Darren Campbell will present Game Changers, a new Saturday morning children's show live on Sky Sports from 17 August

The dope sheet

30 April 2013 Russia's European 800m champion Yelena Arzhakova banned for two years after her biological passport is deemed abnormal; the Olympic silver medal discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova is banned for 10 years for a second positive test.

13 June Jamaica's 400m runner Dominique Blake banned for six years after testing positive for banned substances on two separate occasions.

15 June Fellow Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, the three-times Olympic gold medallist, is found to have tested positive for a banned diuretic in May.

14 July Sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson of Jamaica test positive for banned substances including oxilofrine and the American 4x100m Olympic silver medallist Tyson Gay for an unidentified substance. Reports also claim three other Jamaicans could be implicated.

15 July Another Jamaican, discus thrower Allison Randall, confirms that she will serve a ban for doping. Police in Italy search the hotel rooms of Powell and Simpson for drugs.

16 July Powell's manager, Paul Doyle, claims the sprinter had become reliant on substances given to him by his trainer.

17 July Powell and Simpson's trainer, Chris Xuereb, argues: "Although I suggested certain vitamins to these athletes, it is ultimately the athlete's responsibility to accept or reject my suggestion."

19 July Jamaican discus thrower Traves Smikle tests positive.

31 July Nine Turkish athletes are banned for two years for using anabolic steroids.

Grace Mennem

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Digital Content Officer - Central London - £33,000

£28000 - £33000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive (Digital Marketi...


£400 - £401 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SSIS Administrat...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform