June 23, 2016
Why the NSF is important to natural bodybuilders
By Jim Evans Natural bodybuilders – and all of their related family members in figure, fitness, physique, bikini, sports model, beach body, physically challenged, etal – are suckers for free supplements. Give them free protein bars, protein powder, creatine, energy drinks, or anything else on the voluminous list of products alleged to enhance their appearance, and they are happy as clams. Offer to “sponsor” them with an unlimited supply of supplements for their “endorsement” as top amateurs or so-called “professional athletes” (even if they have never won a dime), and they will be in seventh heaven. As long as the products are “natural,” of course. The catch is that many natural athletes are so starved for recognition in, frankly, one of the most un-recognized sports on the planet that they will accept almost anything from anybody without bothering to investigate whether or not the products might contain substances banned by their sanctioning organization. All commonsense goes out the window when a supplement company strokes their ego or when their favorite role model or trainer recommends certain products. No proof is necessary – just take them without question. If there are no red flags on the label, and if they tell you it’s legit, it must be legit. Right? That’s what American swimmer Jessica Hardy thought in 2008. A top contender for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hardy asked all the right questions when she took a supplement to help her recover after practice and after competition. Her sponsor assured her that it was clean of banned substances. Moreover, the product could allegedly “support nutrient delivery to muscles, promote short-term increases in nitric oxide levels, nourish the precursors necessary for muscle growth and recovery, enhance strength and stamina, and help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and efficient immune system” – all kinds of good things. Sound too good to be true? It was. A popular multi-level health and wellness company was one of Hardy’s sponsors at the time and said all the right things to tout their product. And she took it. Why not? It was free, they said it would work, and she wanted to win. Enough said. Unfortunately for her, this “free” product also contained the banned substance clenbuterol —an asthma medication that can increase muscle growth – that was NOT listed on the ingredients. Imagine her surprise and disappointment when she tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs at the Olympic trials and subsequently missed both the Olympics and the World Championships, and all the endorsement perks that might have accrued. Many other athletes have also fallen victim to tainted supplements over the years. Think it can’t happen to you? You might be surprised by what you find. For an eye-opening list of articles on banned substances found in common supplements, readers may refer to the supplements section of the Taylor Hooton Foundation HERE. This is a serious problem that can adversely affect an athlete’s further ability to compete and cause irreparable harm to their reputation. Recent studies show that drugs were found in 85 percent of the sports enhancement supplements. What can you do to protect yourself against the risk of tainted supplements? Your best protection is to use ONLY those supplements certified by NSF International, the public health and safety organization founded “to protect and improve global human health.” Founded in 1944, the NSF established the NSF Certified for Sport®Program to reduce the risk of supplements containing banned substances through stringent independent certification process guidelines including protection against adulteration of products, verification of label claims against product contents, and identification of athletic banned substances in the finished product or ingredients. The NSF maintains the ONLY accredited American National Standard for the certification of dietary supplements and is currently recognized by NFL, NFLPA, MLB, MLBPA, PGA, LPGA, NHL, CPSDA, Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES). For a list of supplements currently certified by NSF, readers can click HERE . The NSF’s Certified for Sport® program certifies what is on the label agrees with what is in the bottle. Sometimes there is a big difference. NSF certification means that supplement manufacturers and their suppliers have met the NSF’s stringent INDEPENDENT certification process with guidelines developed through a consensus process involving regulatory, sports industry, and consumer organizations. Certified supplements must meet tough standards that include comprehensive lab testing and extensive evaluation of the manufacturing process to that ensure contaminated substances or hidden ingredients are not added to a product. While the supplements you are currently using might be perfectly safe and free from banned substances, if they are not NSF-certified, you will only be taking someone’s word for it and not know for sure. You are taking the very real chance that you may eventually be exposed to a banned substance which could jeopardize your future in natural bodybuilding and irreparably harm your reputation. Ask your supplement sponsors or providers if they are NSF-certified. If not, why not? If they insist that their products are free of banned substances, ask them to show you evidence that their products are not tainted – not just their sayso. Just because they say they are clean does not necessarily mean they are. Better yet, look for the NSF mark (a circle containing the letters NSF) on the label, the product packaging, or the product literature. If you trust without verification, you deserve what you get. And, guess what? Your supplement company will deny everything while you pay the price.