Supplements are no substitute for a balanced, healthy diet and most players will gain little from their use if they have not already optimised their hydration, diet, training and recovery practices. Players contemplating using supplements should be aware of the risks and be able to make well informed decisions. This position statement aims to provide guidance for rugby players who may be considering or already using nutritional supplements.
Three points to consider before using supplements:
- Rugby players of all ages and standards will benefit from good hydration, a balanced rugby-orientated diet, well organised training and a healthy lifestyle. Dietary supplements can play a part but are neither a short-cut, nor an alternative, to those 4 cornerstones of performance.
- Rugby players should only seek and accept advice on the use of supplements from suitably qualified experts. There is good evidence to support the effectiveness of some supplements; equally, there are many for which there is no evidence that they actually work; and some contain prohibited substances that are banned under the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) Code.
- There can be NO guarantee that a supplement is free from prohibited substances. Under the WADA Code, a player is solely responsible for any prohibited substance found to be present in his or her body. No intention or fault needs to be shown in order to establish an anti-doping rule violation. Consuming a contaminated supplement, or one containing a prohibited substance not mentioned on the label, is not a defence to testing positive to a prohibited substance.
A first offence can result in a ban of up to two years. The RFU supports the “Informed Sport” programme, which offers the best way of reducing the risk of using a supplement containing a prohibited substance.