Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, October 28, 2016

Risk Level Rating System: A Deeper Look

Contributed by Anna Filardo, MS
Education Program Manager, Drug Free Sport

Drug Free Sport AXIS™ staff review dietary supplements according to the ingredients listed on the product’s supplement facts panel, marketing claims, and related scam warnings or FDA recalls. After our research and evaluation process, a risk level is assigned as Level 1, 2, or 3. There is no Risk Level 0 because Drug Free Sport does not test dietary supplements.

Due to limitations on regulatory oversight of the dietary supplement industry, there can be no guarantees that a product does not contain banned ingredients without testing each individual item. Unfortunately, supplement companies may intentionally or unintentionally contaminate/adulterate products that end up on the market. For these reasons, the risk level rating system cannot guarantee that a product will not cause a positive drug test. For zero risk, athletes are advised to avoid dietary supplements altogether and focus on food as fuel.

Drug Free Sport AXIS serves as a helpful tool in determining supplement safety for athletes, and provides sports nutrition handouts and recipes as alternatives. For a detailed explanation of the different Risk Levels assigned through the Drug Free Sport AXIS Dietary Supplement Inquiry tool, please keep reading. 

Risk Level I:
  •  The supplement facts panel does not list banned ingredients or ingredients related to a banned drug class. 
  • Product webpage and/or the product label’s marketing is not related to a banned drug class. Example: testosterone is a banned substance; dietary supplements that claim to boost testosterone (and otherwise do not list banned substances) will not be assigned a Risk Level 1.
  • Seen as the “safest” risk level. Remember—there is no guarantee that a dietary supplement company did not contaminate/adulterate the product, which in turn could cause a positive drug test.
  • Specific to Collegiate Sports: A Risk level 1 does not indicate whether or not the product is permissible for direct distribution to athletes. Permissible items are typically determined by compliance officers on campus according to NCAA bylaws.
Risk Level II:
  • Ingredients listed on the label have limited scientific evidence regarding the safety, purity, or effects on the body. The ingredient may not be specifically banned, but has a possibility to be detrimental to the athlete’s health.
  • The marketing for the product makes claims related to a banned drug class. Example: a product that claims to boost testosterone (and otherwise  may not list banned substances) is a Risk Level 2.
  • Specific to organizations that prohibit caffeine: Caffeine or sources of caffeine (green tea, guarana, white tea, etc.) are listed on the label. Caffeine is banned (for specific sport organizations) under the stimulants drug class when urinary concentrations exceed 15 mcg/mL.
    • There is no way for us to know what amount of caffeine will cause a positive drug test due to many factors: metabolic rate, other food/drink consumed, age, gender, weight, height, etc.
  • There are ingredients listed on the label related to a banned drug class. The ingredient is not strictly banned, but is similar to a banned substance. Example: raspberry ketones may share a similar chemical structure to synephrine, a strictly banned stimulant. Therefore, a product listing raspberry ketones (and no other banned substances) would be categorized as a Risk Level 2.
Risk Level III:
  • Ingredients listed are strictly banned. 
  • The product has been cited for contamination/adulteration issues with banned substances, or has been recalled by the FDA.

The Drug Free Sport AXIS risk level rating system is a tool to assist athletes and athletic staff to make informed decisions regarding the use of dietary supplements for sports performance. Ultimately, athletes consume dietary supplements at their own risk.

To have a dietary supplement reviewed by our team, login and submit an inquiry to Drug Free SportAXIS. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Drug Free Sport’s Community Investment – Showing Up Where It Matters

From our employees using their athletic careers to benefit the lives of Midwestern youth, to financially investing in certified athletic trainers to receive continuing education, you can count on Drug Free Sport’s commitment to philanthropy in 2017 and the years to come.

Here are a few ways that Drug Free Sport has shown up over the past year:


Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City:
Drug Free Sport has supported youth sports development in many capacities. Philosophically, we understand that many habits and traits are learned in childhood, which can lead to helping kids make good decisions in life. Additionally, several studies have shown that youth sports help young boys and girls develop leadership skills and confidence, which can translate into positive influence in the boardroom and beyond.

Drug Free Sport’s COO, Chris Guinty, sits on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City’s Board of Directors. Drug Free Sport has also sponsored a summer league T-ball team, tying into Major League Baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) initiative. Dane Jensen, Assistant Director of Collector Training and Development, served as a coach for the kids (pictured above).

Drug Free Sport Continuing Education Awards:
High school and collegiate certified athletic trainers are on the front lines of combating drug abuse and affirming proper drug/supplement education. We aim to validate and encourage their work by offering multiple $1,000 continuing education awards to qualified athletic trainers. In June, we provided two collegiate and one high school certified athletic trainers with these awards. A group of certified athletic trainers, a former award winner, Drug Free Sport staff members and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation came together to review the impressive body of candidates. This year’s award applications will begin in late December, with selected applicants announced in Spring 2017. 

"Shortly after graduating with my master's degree, I became a Division II head athletic trainer at a university that had been competing in intercollegiate athletics for nearly one hundred years, and had never administered an institutionalized drug test. It became apparent to us that Drug Free Sport could help us not only administer proper drug testing, but would also help our university with the most important aspect, education for our student-athletes. The Drug Free Sport Continuing Education Award has helped our university become more diverse in how we can educate our student-athletes and how we can close the gap on preventing drug use in collegiate athletics. Drug testing is just one small piece of the puzzle that any company can help provide. But, the educational tools that Drug Free Sport provides our university stand above the rest and have gone a long way in how we educate and prevent drug use in our student-athletes. We are proud to partner with Drug Free Sport and are proud of the work that their entire team does to help impact our student-athletes." – Heath Duncan, 2016 Drug Free Sport Continuing Education Award Winner; Head Athletic Trainer, Alderson Broaddus University (pictured above)

Careers in Sports Panel:
Our team members will often help those aspiring to careers in sport business by speaking on their life experiences at local events . A unique opportunity was presented in September, when we were asked to speak on a panel with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith via the Team WallStreet organization.  The panel on careers in sports was a charity fundraiser for Kansas City-area youth. Vice President of Professional Sports Drug Testing, J.D. Matheus, addressed the crowd on his experiences as a student-athlete and matriculation into professional sports.

Westside (KC) Back-To-School Backpack/School Supplies Event:
Drug Free Sport headquarters lie on Kansas City’s Westside, a historic area rich in culture and development. Within the neighborhood, there is a frequent need for proper school supplies for children. Drug Free Sport continued its support of its neighborhood by donating to buy more than 30 padlocks for student lockers. Additionally, the team showed up to distribute backpacks and school supplies to kids of all school ages alongside members of the Kansas City, MO Police Department. “Working at the Westside Back-to-School event in the backpack room was very rewarding,” said Michael McCabe, Sport Drug Testing Program Manager. “The moments that brought the most joy were the looks of excitement on each kid’s face, knowing the work that we were doing would make it a little bit easier to head back to school.”

In all of our involvements, we often get as much (if not more) out of the experiences than the communities that we serve.

- Gene Willis, Director of Marketing

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Case to Choose Natural Food Over Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements make up for a lack of nutrition, right? Wrong! Many health goals are met by eating whole, natural food, not by consuming dietary supplements. Athletes report many reasons for consuming dietary supplements. A popular one: “it’s hard to eat healthy; I don’t have time to cook, because my sport takes up a lot of my time.”  However, a deeper look into the food habits of athletes reflects missed meals or snacks, high fat and/or low carbohydrate intake, inadequate total calorie intake, the use of recovery shakes as meal replacements, or an emphasis on supplement intake before food.

The athlete may say:
  • I'm tired all day.
  • I can't maintain my weight.
  • Eating healthy is expensive.
  • I think I need more protein.
  • I'm so hungry at night.
  • I tend to eat more sweets after dinner.

A proper nutrition plan and healthy food choices can address many of the concerns commonly brought forward by athletes.

Research supports that adequate food for performance can:
  • Increase energy.
  • Improve performance.
  • Increase speed, stamina, & endurance.
  • Improve mental focus.
  • Decrease recovery time.
  • Improve mood & sleep.
  • Reduce the risk of injury, cramping, & muscle pulls.
  • Increase muscle mass.
  • Decrease fat mass.
The comparisons below illustrate how whole food combinations actually provide more nutrition than dietary supplements.

Clearly, food is a better bang for your buck! The risk of contamination/adulteration in dietary supplements is eliminated, and you receive more nutritive value from food than dietary supplements. Working with a sports dietitian is highly recommended to help individualize your unique food fueling strategies to reach performance goals. Drug Free Sport AXIS™ also provides a growing "Athlete Recipe Box" with athlete-friendly recipes that require little time, taste great, and are easy to prepare.