Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Monday, August 22, 2016

NCAA "Approved" Supplements. Explaining the truth.

Contributed by Anna Filardo, MS, CPT 
Education Program Manager at Drug Free Sport, Inc.

MYTH: The NCAA approves dietary supplements.
Dietary supplement companies might advertise supplements as “NCAA Approved” on brand websites and packaging labels and persuade student-athletes to buy their product. This marketing effort may give sports medicine staff the perception that the supplement is safe and appropriate for their student-athletes. Many believe there is a list of NCAA “approved” dietary supplements— or that there is an approval process.

Image courtesy of NCAA
"There is no list of NCAA-approved supplement products.” [Quote and image from the 2016-17 NCAA Drug-Testing Program.] The NCAA has a food-first mindset: eat whole foods instead of using dietary supplements to achieve performance and recovery goals. Dietary supplements bring uncertainty to consumers. Due to minimal regulation or oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), supplement companies ARE NOT required to have pre-market approval of safety, efficacy, or purity of their products before selling them to consumers. So, there is no way for the NCAA (or any sport organization) to be 100% certain of what is in a dietary supplement.  

Drug Free Sport AXIS™ is the NCAA’s preferred tool to provide guidance on dietary supplements and assess for banned ingredients and misleading marketing.  The Drug Free Sport AXIS™ team’s role is to compare the NCAA banned substance list with the supplement facts and ingredient list on any dietary supplement. This process does not endorse or indicate any approval for the use of a dietary supplement.

A Risk Level 1 DOES NOT mean the dietary supplement is approved for NCAA athletes. Student-athletes consume dietary supplements at their own risk. Similarly, it is up to the institution to interpret the NCAA bylaw that pertains to the direct distribution of permissible nutritional supplements.

It is important for athletic departments and student-athletes to understand that a supplement categorized as a Risk Level 1 in the Drug Free Sport AXIS™ Dietary Supplement Inquiry resource DOES NOT make the dietary supplement permissible to directly supply to student-athletes. Drug Free Sport does not provide official interpretation of NCAA policies and bylaws.

Let’s recap:
  • The NCAA does not approve the use of dietary supplements.
  • Dietary supplements are only permissible under four categories and certain ingredients.
  • A Drug Free Sport AXIS™ Risk Level 1 supplement assignment does not indicate that the dietary supplement is approved or permissible for use. 
To learn more about NCAA rules regarding dietary supplements or to ask specific questions on the topic, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar on September 14: NCAA Dietary Supplements: Approved, Permissible, or Banned?  The webinar will be presented by Mary Wilfert, Associate Director for the NCAA Sports Science Institute and Lara Gray, Director of Education for Drug Free Sport.

To submit a Dietary Supplement Inquiry on Drug Free Sport AXIS™ visit www.drugfreesport.com/axis

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