SLADA to turn screw on supplement abuse

Tuesday, 8 November 2016 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Madushka Balasuriya 

The Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency believes that more research needs to be done on the effects of Ayurvedic and other nutritional supplements so as to better regulate their use, and hopes a new Rs. 200 million headquarters at the Sugathadasa Stadium will help them in achieving their goal.

Construction on the new HQ building is expected to be completed in the middle of next year and SLADA Director General Dr. Seevali Jayawickreme revealed that they are looking at building a state-of-the-art laboratory on the premises to look into the use of Ayurvedic supplements.

“A lot of athletes take Ayurvedic supplements in the country, but at the moment we have a weak understanding of what is good and bad. More research needs to be done into this field and we need to better understand how herbs and other plant-based supplements affect the human body.”

Dr. Jayawickreme added that through their findings they aim to create awareness among Sri Lanka’s sporting community about the dangers posed by the use of unregulated supplements.

“Athletes involved in sports such as bodybuilding and weightlifting need to have a better understanding of the long- and short-term effects of the supplements they are taking. Even recreational sportsmen are not aware of the supplements they take. Some of these are not even certified under Sri Lankan law. 

“We hope that through our investigations, SLADA will be able to widen its understanding so as to control the use of supplements better, like we do with narcotics.”

SLADA Chairman Dr. Arjuna De Silva added that supplement use in the country was “out of control” but noted that awareness programs at the grassroots level would help in educating the younger generation.

“Studies in the US have shown that one of the main ways children develop liver problems is through the use of supplements. The sports code in the country has a list of cleared for use supplements but several of the supplements imported into and used in the country are not on that list.

“We have conducted awareness programs at the school level for both players and coaches but the media also need to play a role in helping educate the public.

“If you take Rugby for example, recently, thankfully, it has been clean. But in the past we have had a lot of problems, especially due to the use of banned supplements, which were a majority of the time used unintentionally.”

De Silva also revealed that SLADA will be bringing down special equipment in the near future in order to carry out tests on the use of Erythropoietin (EPO) and growth hormones.

“Want to start blood testing in the near future for EPO and growth hormones. At the moment we can’t determine whether sportsmen in Sri Lanka use these without first testing them and to comply with international standards it needs to be done.”

SL chair SARADO meeting

Dr. Jayawickreme and Dr. De Silva were addressing the media at the conclusion of the two-day South Asian Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (SARADO) Board Meeting. The meeting saw Sri Lanka assume Chairpersonship for the next four years, and saw the participation of members from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal alongside Sri Lanka. In addition, independent observers from the World Anti-Doping Agency were also in attendance.

“The anti-doping movement is not perfect, there are areas to improve. But I think having open and honest discussions with anti-doping leaders throughout the world, including those in the South Asian region and Sri Lanka, helps us in moving forward,” said WADA Deputy Director for NADO/RADO Relations Tom May.

A part of improving the anti-doping movement in Sri Lanka is addressing the lack of qualified Doping Control Officers (DCO), who are in charge of the testing of athletes. SLADA has therefore made arrangements to organise a program for training 20 DCO who will then be deployed islandwide. The DCO training program will be held from 16-18 November at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo 7.

Furthermore, another workshop has been organised on ‘Results Management relating to Anti-Doping in Sports’ so as to coincide with the SARADO Board Meeting and the DCO training program. The workshop, which is expected to help SLADA’s judicial process meet international standards, will be held on 19 and 20 November at the Hotel Mirage, Colombo 6.

Both the DCO Training Program and Workshop on Results Management will be facilitated by qualified Expatriate Resource Personnel attached to the United Kingdom’s Anti-Doping Agency.