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Athlete Warning from ASADA: Higenamine in supplements

Image (c) Swimming Australia

Today, ASADA has issued a warning about a banned substance called Higenamine which is being found in supplements sold around Australia. 

In the last year alone, 13 athletes have tested positive to the substance and have faced anti-doping sanctions as a result.

This is the second time ASADA has warned athletes about this substance so it is important that we all take this seriously.

Here is ASADA's official statement from their website:

In November 2016, ASADA published an athlete warning on the banned substance Higenamine, following a spike in the number of detections. Since then, six more Australian athletes have tested positive for Higenamine, bringing the total number of positives for that substance to 13 across nine different sports.  So if you take supplements, your sporting career could be at risk too.

About Higenamine

Higenamine is a Beta-2 Agonist (these type of substances allow lungs to take in more oxygen) and is prohibited in- and out-of-competition. Today it is found in many popular supplements, including:

It is often described as ‘natural’, and has also been listed as an ingredient on supplement labels as:

What can you do?

There are a number of things you can do to prevent a positive test.

1. Don’t take supplements

All supplements are risky, and none can guarantee 100% that they do not contain prohibited substances. Supplements can be accidentally cross contaminated by other substances made in the same factory, or can contain prohibited substances deliberately included by the manufacturer to ensure users get results, while failing to list the ingredient on labels.

Before you take any supplements, seek the advice of your doctor or sports dietician about whether you really need them, or whether changes to your diet or training program could get better results instead. Many studies suggest there is little evidence that athletes need supplements given a well-balanced diet.

2. Choose a low-risk, tested supplement

If you choose to take supplements, despite the risk, consider using one which has been tested by an independent auditing company. Informed Sport and HASTA both offer testing before the product hits the shelf, and Informed Sport lists all tested products on their website. These do not give you a 100% guarantee, but are less risky than other non-tested supplements.

3. Check the ingredients

DO NOT take a supplement if you do not know the ingredients. You can check some ingredients on GlobalDro, but since ingredients can have more than 20 different names, not every version is listed. And, as above, not every ingredient is always listed.

4. Follow the AIS  guidelines

The Australian Institute of Sport issues guidelines to help categorise supplements by risk and efficacy. Their matrix can help you decide whether it is worthwhile taking a supplement, and how to reduce your risk.

5. Educate yourself

Complete ASADA’s eLearning Level 1 Course, and stay up to date on new anti-doping issues with the Level 2 Course.

Importantly, because of the manufacturing processes, the contents of supplements can vary from batch-to-batch and may contain prohibited substances in sport regardless of what is listed in the label. As such, ASADA cannot give any specific supplements the all clear. ASADA does not endorse any supplements.


You can read the whole article from ASADA's website here.

If you have any questions you can contact ASADA on 13 000 ASADA or email: education@asada.gov.au

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