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 foodstuffs can take the place of supplements or become a good diet for me 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: http://www.adsa.org.za/Public/FindARegisteredDietitian.aspx

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.

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: fahmy@saids.org.za

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).