The risk of contamination with sports supplements is huge

Dr Sharon Madigan breaks down the issue and explains what methylhexaneamine ("MHA") is

BY Raf Diallo 20:12 Monday 29 May 2017, 20:12 29 May 2017

Vitamins and supplements. Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

Earlier on Monday, Sport Ireland confirmed that Kerry footballer Brendan O'Sullivan had served a 21-week ban for testing positive for a banned stimulant.

The substance in question was methylhexaneamine ("MHA") and can be found in some pre-workout supplements.

In the statement, Sport Ireland said: "Mr. O'Sullivan, a player with the Kerry Senior Football team, received a period of ineligibility of 21 weeks for testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine ("MHA"). Mr. O'Sullivan was tested on 24th April 2016 after playing as a substitute for Kerry in the National League Final."

To discuss the wider issue of supplement use in Irish sport, Off The Ball were joined by Dr Sharon Madigan, a Performance Nutritionist at The Institute Of Sport.

She explained what MHA is, stating: "It acts as a stimulant and it had appeared in products in and around 2009 and maybe even a little bit before then. That's probably when it came on the WADA anti-doping list."

She explained that it is labelled on some products but not on others "which then causes problems for individuals who come under the anti-doping pool". 

Discussing the potential of contaminated products, she said, "You're probably looking at about somewhere around 20% of products, either off the shelf or over the Internet, there is potential for contamination with something that's not on the label. People might think that's quite strange but actually there are companies that make products that would test you positive on an anti-doping test one day on a conveyor belt and then the next day they might be making vitamins or minerals or other products like caffeine supplements, protein etc etc. The next day they could be coming down that same conveyor belt and just for want of good processes, good cleaning processes, small amounts of product can get into the batch that's there."  

She added that's the issue for athletes in comparison to ordinary members of the public because they face testing in their domain, before discussing some of the concerns around certain supplements and methods, as well as outlining what best practice is.

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