The January 2015 decision of the National Anti-Doping Panel relating to Welsh athletes Rhys Williams and Gareth Warburton has highlighted the modern day risks posed to athletes by taking nutritional supplements. Williams and Warburton received bans of 4 months and 6 months respectively after their urine samples provided during the 2014 Summer Season had contained metabolites of anabolic steroids.
The case illustrates that elite athletes must tread a very fine line between taking the important nutritional supplements to support their training, recovery and competition phase needs whilst also having to recognise that supplements pose contamination risks and that the only real way to eliminate any form of risk is by taking no supplements whatsoever.
The two Welsh athletes in question who were ultimately forced to miss the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow despite being medal contenders managed to link their failed tests to a contaminated supplement they had been taking under the name of Mountain Fuel Xtreme Energy. The prohibited substances were not listed as being contained in the ingredients of the Mountain Fuel product and Williams had even gone as far as carrying out additional research of his own into the supplement. He had checked the Informed Sport website and noticed that the product was not listed on there. Informed Sport is a database of batch tested products which athletes can consult when choosing whether or not to take a particular supplement or branded product. Upon discovering that the product in question was not listed on the Informed Sport database, Williams had asked Mountain Fuel for clarification that the product in question had been batch tested. They had advised him that it had.
It is abundantly clear from the above case that the two athletes in question had in no way intentionally cheated in taking the Mountain Fuel product, nor had the prohibited substances found in their systems improved their performance. Nevertheless, anti-doping in sport is largely based upon a principle of strict liability. This means that an athlete is ultimately individually responsible for any product found in his or her system no matter how it got there. The testing regimes and chemical analysis procedures involved in anti-doping in sport are ever improving, making it more and more difficult for athletes to intentionally cheat. The improvements in testing have also served to illustrate to athletes that the risks involved in failing a routine doping test for a contaminated supplement are also a lot greater.
Here at Farleys we have a highly regarded Sports Law Department with specialist solicitors who are able to provide expert advice on the implications of a failed doping test or guidance in relation to any dispute you may find yourself in with a supplement company. Do not hesitate to contact us today for advice on any of the topics covered above on 0845 287 0939. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.