APAC authorities issue warnings over sports supplements' role in athletic doping

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Athletic doping has become a recurring problem in certain APAC countries. ©iStock
Athletic doping has become a recurring problem in certain APAC countries. ©iStock

Related tags Nutrition

Athletic doping is a growing area of concern in APAC, with the Japanese Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) most recently issuing a warning about Anavite, a brand of nutritional supplements.

Anavite’s mineral and multivitamin formulas are advertised as ‘high-potency’, with clinically approved amounts of L-carnitine and L-tartrate.

Their purported benefits include a rise in vasodilation and nitric oxide availability, as well as optimal aerobic an anaerobic athletic performance.

Casting doubt

JADA, however, has stated that Anavite was possibly responsible for a swimmer’s failed in-competition doping test at the National Sports Festival of Japan, held earlier this month.

Though the athlete in question has not been named, the agency said he / she had taken Anavite, which may have contributed to the failed doping test.

The agency also encouraged athletes to rely mainly on food for nutrition, as opposed to supplements, which often face the risk of being tainted, adding that it is their responsibility to adhere to anti-doping rules.

Not only in Japan

Doping in the professional sports scene has been a recurring problem in other APAC countries, including India​ and Australia.

Last month, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) issued a warning about a banned substance, Higenamine (also known as norcoclaurine HCI), with a reminder that it is still present in some supplements sold in the country.

Initially produced to aid in weight management, Higenamine was banned for athletic use by the World Anti-Doping Agency and added to the 2017 Prohibited Substances list​, under the ‘non-selective beta-20 agonist’ category.

According to the agency, 13 athletes across nine sports have tested positive for Higenamine so far, including six Australian athletes since November last year.

Higenamine is a Beta-2 Agonist (such substances allow lungs to take in more oxygen) and is prohibited in and out of competition. Today, it is found in many popular supplements, said the authority.

Naturally misleading

ASADA warned that Higenamine — marketed by manufacturers as ‘natural’ — is usually hidden in plain sight under different names on product labels, including demethylcoclaurine, norcoclaurine, Gnetum parvifolium​, and Asarum heterotropoides​.

The agency also advised that athletes avoid all supplements, as there is no way to guarantee 100% that they do not contain prohibited substances”​.

If athletes want or have to take supplements, they should opt for those tested and approved by independent auditors.

The ASADA website disclaimer reads: “Because of the manufacturing processes, the contents of supplements can vary from batch to batch, and may contain prohibited substances in sport regardless of what is listed on the label.

“As such, ASADA cannot give any specific supplements the all-clear. ASADA does not endorse any supplements.”

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