Can a dietary / sport supplement company have their products APPROVED by SAIDS (or WADA)?

The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) is not involved in any certification process regarding supplements and therefore does not certify or endorse manufacturers or their products.  Brands / products that claim that it has been approved or certified by SAIDS, or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) should be reported to SAIDS (or WADA).

If a company wishes to promote its products to the sport community, it is their responsibility as a manufacturer to ensure that the products do not lead to any anti-doping rule violation. Consumers should be aware that manufacturers may claim that it is free from banned substances without having credible proof thereof.  There are some independent, third-party testers of supplements that have various verification and testing programmes in place (varying from very basic to more comprehensive testing). Consumers should be aware that even with the more comprehensive testing programmes on offer, though it may reduce the risk of contamination with banned substances, it does not eliminate the risk entirely.  This type of testing programme also does not verify if the product may have other harmful ingredients (beyond the list of banned substances), or that the product is effective (i.e. proof that it is doing what it claims to do, and doing so without causing harmful side-effects).

Can a dietary / sport supplement company have their products TESTED by SAIDS (or WADA)?

The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) is not involved in the testing of dietary / sport supplements.

The Laboratory Code of Ethics, in the International Standard for Laboratories (Section 4.4 of Annex B), states that World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratories shall not engage in analyzing commercial material or preparations (e.g. dietary supplements) unless specifically requested by an Anti-Doping Organization (such as SAIDS) as part of a doping case investigation. The Laboratory shall not provide results, documentation or advice that, in any way, suggests endorsement of products or services.

I really want to bulk up. What is the most effective AND safest route for me to follow?

To increase muscle mass you need an appropriate strength training programme as stimulus for the muscle to grow. An equal amount of dedication and effort need to go into optimising your dietary intake – the correct composition (mix or carbs and protein), amount and timing of meals and snacks are needed to maximise training adaptations and muscle growth.

Avoid the following dietary mistakes:
– Protein is important for muscle growth, but there is a limit to how much your body can use for muscle growth. So, don’t over-do it at the expense of other dietary components, such as carbohydrate-rich foods that are equally important. Carbs provide the necessary fuel and other dietary nutrients to fuel your training sessions, aid recovery and muscle growth. Carbs also play a role in triggering the release of key hormones (e.g. insulin) that stimulate muscle growth.

– Don’t blindly believe the ‘incredible’ results that muscle-building-type supplements offer. At closer inspection you most often will find that these products have NOT been evaluated or approved by the SA Medicines Control Council, and lack proper scientific-grade testing for efficacy AND/OR safety.

*Muscle bulking products pose a high risk of containing unapproved drugs / herbal ingredients and formulations that may cause ill-health effects, and may cause athletes to test positive for a prohibited substance.

Consult with qualified professionals such as a Registered Dietitian and Biokineticist, who are best suited to provide evidence-based advice on optimal nutrition and strength regimes.

For more information read the SAIDS leaflet “Supplements under the Spotlight” and the Supplements Position Statement on the SAIDS website.

What foods can I take instead of supplements to bulk-up?

A Registered Dietitian can best advise athletes on the most appropriate diet that can assist in achieving sporting excellence. The goal should be to optimise your daily dietary intake (type, amount and timing of food intake) as this is scientifically proven as the best approach to maximise training adaptations and muscle growth. If/when supplementation is considered, a proper “do I need it” versus “what are the proven benefits” versus “what are the risks” -analysis should be made and a low-risk supplement-use approach be followed.

To find a Registered Dietitian visit the Association for Dietetics in SA’s website or follow this link:

What is a Dietitian?
• A qualified health professional registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA),
• who has a minimum qualification of a four year Bachelor of Dietetics or Bachelor of Science in Dietetics degree or a two-year post-graduate nutrition and dietetics degree
• with training in all aspects and fields of nutrition therapy.
• Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems, both at an individual and at public health level.
• Dietitians use the most up-to-date evidence on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidelines to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.

How does a substance or method make it to the prohibited list?

A substance or methods gets added to the Prohibited List if it meets any two of the following three criteria:

  1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance;
  2. It represents an actual or potential health risk to the Athlete;
  3. It violates the spirit of sport (this definition is outlined in the Code).

Substances or methods which mask the effect or detection of prohibited substances are also prohibited.  In addition, a substance which has not been approved for human use is also likely to be prohibited.

The Prohibited List is reviewed annually in consultation with scientific, medical and anti-doping experts to ensure it reflects current medical and scientific evidence and doping practices. The Prohibited List comes into effect on January 1st of each year and is published by WADA three months prior to coming into force; however, in exceptional circumstances, a substance may be added to the Prohibited List at any time.

What is the difference between a "specified" and "non-specified" substance’?

NOTE THAT all substances on the Prohibited List are prohibited.

The sub-classification of substances as “Specified” or “Non-Specified” are important only in the sanctioning process. A “Specified Substance” is a substance which potentially allows, under defined conditions, for a greater reduction of a sanction when an athlete tests positive for that particular substance.

The purpose of the sub-classifications of “Specified” or “Non-Specified” on the Prohibited List is to recognize that it is possible for a substance to enter an athlete’s body inadvertently, and therefore allow a tribunal more flexibility when making a sanctioning decision.

“Specified” substances are not necessarily less effective doping agents than “Non-Specified” substances, nor do they relieve athletes of the strict liability rule that makes them responsible for all substances that enter their body.

Can the use of eye drops lead to a positive doping test?

Eye drops containing beta-blockers are prohibited in particular sports under section P1 because the administration of beta-blockers in the eye (as an eye drop) results in systemic concentrations of the drugs similar to when the medication is taken orally.

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors dorzolamide and brinzolamide, when administered topically in the eye, are not prohibited. The rationale behind this exception is these drugs do not have a diuretic effect when topically applied.

What is the status of Pseudoephedrine (common in cold & flu meds)?

Pseudoephedrine is a specified stimulant prohibited In-Competition only at a urinary threshold of 150 µg/mL. This decision was based on the results of controlled excretion studies as well as scientific literature indicating that only high doses of pseudoephedrine improved sports performance.

Seeing that Pseudoephedrine is widely available, particularly as a common ingredient in cold and flu preparations, WADA advises that athletes and their support personnel be advised of the following:

  • Athletes should stop taking Pseudoephedrine-containing medicines at least 24 hours before competition.   > For therapeutic applications during the In-Competition period, consider the use of alternative permitted medications in consultation with a physician, or apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption for the use of Pseudoephedrine for therapeutic reasons.
  • The established urinary threshold level of 150 µg/mL may be reached (rarely, but possibly) in some individuals within 6-20 hours of taking some long-acting therapeutic formulations.
  • The threshold level of 150 µg/mL has been established based on the intake of therapeutic doses of pseudoephedrine, defined as a maximum daily dose of 240 mg pseudoephedrine taken either as:
    • four daily oral administrations (one every 4-6 hours) of a 60 mg (or 2 x 30 mg) immediate release preparation (i.e. tablet, capsule or liquid) or
    • two daily administrations (one every 12 hours) of a 120 mg extended release preparation
    • one daily administration of a 240 mg extended release preparation.
  • As an example, a single daily dose of 3 x 60 mg tablets would be a supra-therapeutic dose that may lead to an Adverse Analytical Finding (Anti-Doping Rule Violation).


What can happen to me if my test result is positive because I used medication without knowing that it contained a prohibited substance?

Under the principle of strict liability under anti-doping regulations, as an athlete, you are ultimately responsible for everything that goes into your body, whether it was recommended, prescribed, or even provided by someone else. If an athlete tests positive, the result is a disqualification, and possible sanction or suspension.

What is being done to help athletes avoid an inadvertent positive result from using the wrong medication?

Education is key to ensure that you are empowered and aware of the various risks that may lead to inadvertent doping. Under the Education section on the SAIDS website you will find various resources and leaflets that highlight various issues.

Supplement-use is one such risk that has been implicated in various positive doping tests. Athletes also need to be careful with the use of any home remedies that have found their place in the family tradition or cultural lifestyle. Many such concoctions are derived from herbal products and some prohibited substances do originate from plants. Remember, under the strict liability principle, it does not matter how or why a prohibited substance entered an athlete’s body. Athletes are responsible for everything that goes into their body.

Note that recreational drugs (e.g. dagga) are also on the list of prohibited substances, so recreational drug-use also poses a risk to testing positive and being banned from sport.

How do I know if the medication I am using contains a prohibited substance?

Always check with the medical doctor and pharmacist if your medication contains a prohibited substance(s). But as an athlete that might get tested you always need to double-check!

To check medications available on the SA market, use the online “Medication Check” tool available on the SAIDS website.

Who can I contact at SAIDS regarding the status of my medication or supplement that I am using if I cannot find it on the "Medication Check" tool?

Contact Fahmy Galant:

Who should apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)?

This is dependent on the sporting code or event that you participate in, and whether you are considered as a “national-level” or “international-level” athlete. For the detailed list of sporting codes, sporting events and criteria please refer to the information provided under the “TUE” section of the SAIDS website.

If a team member tests positive after a match, does the team lose points or a cup (if it's a tournament final)?

The sanction and any consequences of that falls on the player alone.
However, according to Article 11.2 of SAIDS Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV) – Consequences for Team Sports: If more than TWO members of a team are found to have committed an ADRV, an appropriate sanction on the team can be imposed (e.g. loss of points).