The doping conundrum: Deliberate deception or accidental actions?

Athletes must navigate the complex landscape of doping with responsible supplement usage to uphold a fair and healthy playing field.

Published : Sep 14, 2023 19:19 IST - 3 MINS READ

Turning point: Dutee Chand has been banned for four years for use of a banned substance.
Turning point: Dutee Chand has been banned for four years for use of a banned substance. | Photo Credit: AFP

Turning point: Dutee Chand has been banned for four years for use of a banned substance. | Photo Credit: AFP

As a serving member of the Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Council of India, I was invited by the Swimming Federation of India to deliver a lecture at the Sub-Junior and Junior National Swimming Championships held in Bhubaneswar.

The topic was — ‘Nutrition & Responsible Use of Supplements’.

The timing of my lecture was particularly significant, as it coincided with a regrettable incident involving one of India’s prominent athletes, Dutee Chand (above), who had been banned due to a failed blood test.

This emphasises on the critical need for increased knowledge dissemination and education among athletes regarding the complex landscape of doping, since such incidents can also be a result of unintentional consumption of substances due to lack of awareness rather than any wrongdoing on the athlete’s end.

WADA’s (World Anti Doping Agency) Principle of Strict Liability, says regardless of whether athletes used a substance on purpose or accidentally, athletes are fully accountable for any compounds identified in their body specimens.

RELATED: Doping ban restored: Athlete Poovamma’s NADA ban in back after ‘error’ allowed her to compete

So the onus lies on the athlete to self-educate and learn or work with professionals like nutritionists who can help and guide them in the right direction.

Ways of Unintentional Doping

Contaminated supplements: Supplements that have been contaminated with illegal drugs and are not frequently stated on labels, put athletes at danger of doping and can unintentionally result in positive tests and penalties.

Contaminated food or drink: Consuming tainted food or drinks that contain illegal substances might result in unintentional doping and cause athletes to unwittingly fail tests. Lack of education & awareness: Athletes who lack a thorough awareness of anti-doping policies and forbidden drugs may unintentionally break the law, which emphasises the importance of proper education.

Exposure through environment: Athletes may come into touch with illegal substances unintentionally, such as chemicals or pollutants, resulting in accidental doping offences.

Prescription and over-the-counter medication: Athletes may inadvertently fail doping tests due to ill-informed usage of drugs that contain prohibited compounds, even if they are used for medical needs.

Herbal or traditional remedies: Due to hidden prohibited ingredients found in some items, using herbal or conventional medicines may result in unexpectedly positive tests.

Cross-contamination in training facilities: Shared training areas may subject athletes to prohibited materials found on other people’s items or equipment, leading to unintended doping offenses.

Unlabelled or mislabelled supplements: Athletes may unintentionally violate the anti-doping rules by using supplements with improper labelling or ingredient lists.

How to select a right supplement?

Look for informed sport stamp on the label. A worldwide quality control program called Informed Sport certifies sports supplements, assuring that they are free of contaminants and illegal substances. Since the Informed Sport accreditation denotes thorough testing and quality control, athletes may put their faith in items bearing this label.

Role of nutrition planning in doping

By giving athletes the necessary information and techniques to ethically, responsibly and effectively nourish their bodies, nutrition planning plays a critical role in preventing doping in sports. A professional sports nutritionist can make a significant contribution by advising and assisting athletes in purchasing the appropriate supplements, guiding them toward choosing healthy, natural foods, lowering the risk of unintentional violations by raising awareness of prohibited substances, and creating a personalized sports nutrition plan with the proper nutrition requirements and supplement strategies based on individual needs.

The tragic circumstances surrounding numerous well-known sportsmen receiving doping suspensions in the recent past have served as an alarming reminder that product abuse and a lack of awareness can result in unintentional doping offenses. My goal with a platform like sportstar, which has athletes’ wellbeing at its center, is to arm young athletes with the knowledge they need to make educated decisions about their supplement use and dietary choices, helping to maintain a level and healthy playing field for all players. If you need any help to be a clean athlete while you strive for excellence, reach out to me at

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