Bodies Which Test Banned Substances In Supplement

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Doping is the biggest nuisance in professional sports, and the international anti-doping agencies have been fighting tooth & nail against the use of banned substance by competitive athletes. But, whether used intentionally or unintentionally, it’s always more of a concern for the athletes & their coaches.

With a number of athletes caught in the doping trap every year, the sporting bodies are becoming even more concerned on how to protect their athletes from the menace of banned substances in supplements. On the other hand, the anti-doping agencies have put all the onus on the athlete and their coaches to protect themselves in every way possible.

That’s the reason, international athletes today, are vary of everything they are asked to put in their bodies. In fact, the athletes and everyone else, have the right to know what they are putting in their bodies. What is the source of the substances, supplement or food they are using. So that, they don’t unknowingly ingest any banned substances in supplements.

banned substances in supplements

Supplement industry being an unregulated one, with a top body like US FDA itself stating that it doesn’t review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed (link 1), (link 2); it becomes a risky business for athletes and coaches to trust every supplement brand in the market.

On the other hand, “WADA is not involved in any certification process regarding supplements and therefore does not certify or endorse manufacturers or their products. WADA does not control the quality or the claims of the supplements industry which may, from time to time, claim that their products have been approved or certified by WADA”.(click here to know more)

This is where testing and certifications from government regulated 3rd party labs can give these athletes a peace of mind, about the quality & efficacy of supplements they use to enhance their performance.

As of now, there are 4 top bodies in the world which test for banned substances in supplements:

  1. Cologne List, Germany
  2. Informed Sport, LGC Assure
  3. Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG), US
  4. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), US

These 4 bodies focus on the compounds on the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) banned substance list , as well as the list of other sporting and Olympic bodies.

We can’t say one is better than the other, as all have proven their testing accuracy and effectiveness, time and again. Therefore, if you are shopping for supplements, these are the testing certifications, you should be looking for in your supplement brand.

But even with these certifications, there can be discrepancies in the supplement quality. Some companies may claim falsely to be certified from these bodies, yet others may just get one batch or product, and not the next one. But you have to do a bit of research on which brand you are going to choose for your and your family’s health in the future.  


cologne list

Cologne List was created because of the alarming results of an international IOC sponsored study conducted by the Institute of Biochemistry of the German Sport University Cologne in 2004 that startled both the sporting community as well as the nutritional supplement industry. The study found that about 15 percent of nutritional supplements acquired in 13 different countries contained anabolic agents that were not declared on the label”.(click here to know more)

Cologne List only lists products from “regular” manufacturers who have voluntarily passed the Cologne List quality management. These manufacturers contribute to a higher transparency in the market and give athletes a higher security.

Cologne List is an integral part of GEMEINSAM GEGEN DOPING. The national doping prevention network, initiated by the Prevention Department of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), includes all top Olympic associations, all state sports federations and associations, as well as professional associations and clubs”.(know more)

A laboratory analysis conducted by the Centre for Preventive Doping Research (CePreDo) at the German Sport University Cologne is absolutely mandatory for a product listing on Cologne List. The CePreDo analyses products for selected anabolic-androgenic steroids and stimulants. Only products that have successfully passed a label check at the CePreDo will be analysed. Analysis reports from the CePreDo may only be published on Cologne List and nowhere else“.(Know More)

The National Anti-Doping Agency Germany (NADA) cooperates with Cologne List in their shared commitment to prevent doping.

Since 2006, Cologne List has been offering companies the option of publishing analyses for anabolic steroids and stimulants conducted by an independent scientific laboratory, which is one of the world’s leading labs in the field of analytical testing for banned substances in nutritional supplements”.(know more)

Since 2006 there has not been a positive doping case by a product of Cologne List .


Informed Sport is a global testing and certification programme for sports and nutritional supplements. Supplement products are tested by LGC’s world-class anti-doping laboratory for contamination against a broad range of banned substances in sport, using ISO 17025 accredited methods.

lgc assure

Established in 2008, Informed Sport has certified over 3,000 unique products sold in over 127 countries globally. Informed Sports is part of the LGC ASSURE, which brings together four leading brands to provide a connected series of supply chain assurance solutions across critical touchpoints, with a focus on the manufacturing, laboratory, ingredients and nutritional supplements sectors.(know more)

certification informed sport

(Pic Source: )

Following supplement certification, EVERY product batch (including all flavour variants) must be submitted by the brand to Informed Sport for testing using LGC’s ISO 17025 accredited prohibited substances screen before the product can be released into the marketplace.(know more)

LGC routinely screens supplement products for in excess of 250 compounds considered prohibited in sport/harmful to health – substances such as drugs of abuse, anabolic agents, stimulants, beta-2 agonists, diuretics and new and emerging threats such as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARM’s), Vaptans and Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors (PPAR’s), etc.(click here to know more)


LGC has two programs INFORMED CHOICE & INFORMED SPORT. Informed Sport and Informed Choice utilise the same testing procedures and technologies. Both programmes test products using ISO 17025 accredited methods. They also test for the same banned substances and impurities within sports nutrition supplements.

The key difference between Informed Choice and Informed Sport is the frequency of testing done.


Acc. to the official websiteInformed Sport was developed in 2008 for the elite sports nutrition industry in conjunction with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD). IT tests every single batch of a product prior to it being released to market. This means every flavour or variation of a product is tested. Post-certification also includes further assurance through regular blind testing, where the products are purchased from retail and tested again.

Informed Choice testing is done through monthly blind sampling. This means the LGC laboratory team purchases the product from retail outlets such as brick and mortar stores or websites where it is sold and it is then tested. At least one lot/batch of the product is tested every month, but not all like with Informed Sport. 

Informed Sport was specifically created to cater to elite athletes and drug tested personnel, such as the military, subject to strict doping control standards and random drug testing. Their careers are dependent on following these regulations and passing drug exams. Even the smallest amount of contamination in a supplement could spell the end of an athlete’s career, tarnish their reputation and cost them millions in endorsements. With Informed Sport, athletes can minimize the risks often associated with untested supplements and trust they are safer for use.   

Informed Choice is a quality assurance programme for the sport nutrition industry and has been designed for those living an active lifestyle who aren’t necessarily subject to the strict doping measures of elite athletes but are still conscious about what goes in their bodies. Informed Choice is a voluntary quality assurance programme for reputable supplement companies so they can ensure products are not contaminated with banned substances in supplements and are safer for use. Supplement users can be assured they aren’t subjecting their bodies to banned substances which can often have adverse and harmful effects.


NSF International was founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation. NSF certifies dietary supplements to NSF/ANSI 173, the only American National Standard for testing and certifying dietary supplements.


NSF evaluates the composition of dietary supplements and ingredients. The assessment includes testing for vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, sports supplements, concentrates, metabolites, constituents and extracts to verify the supplement facts panel reflects the product’s contents or that the certificate of analysis for the ingredient accurately depicts its identity and purity specifications.(know more)

NSF assesses products and ingredients for the presence of contaminants that impact health, including the toxic elements lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and chromium; presence of aerobic microorganisms, yeast and moulds, and Enterobacteriaceae, and specifically for the potential pathogens. NSF analyses mycotoxins, which are released by fungi and are hepatotoxic. It also assesses items that contain botanical materials for the presence of pesticides.

NSF Certified for Sport program certifies dietary supplements to be free from substances banned by major sporting organizations. NSF screens for over 280 substances, across all classes, including steroids, SARMs, stimulants, beta-agonists, diuretics, growth hormone releasing agents and hormone metabolic modulators.

Certified for Sport is the only independent, third-party certification program recognized by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the Canadian Football League.


In 2004, Dr. Catlin and his son Oliver Catlin introduced BSCG (Banned Substances Control Group), helping to found the industry of third-party supplement testing and certification.

Dr. Catlin developed the first sport drug-testing laboratory in the United States in 1982, and for 25 years built and managed drug testing programs for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), MLB, NFL, NCAA, U.S. military and performed testing for several Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.(know more)


BSCG offers a complete suite of certification, testing and GMP compliance services to the dietary supplement and natural product industries :

The BSCG Certified Drug Free seal, indicates that individual batches have been tested for more than 496 banned substances in sport or illicit drugs. It provides protection against drugs on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List as well as, prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and illicit drugs not banned in sport.

BSCG Certified Quality conducts testing to verify ingredient identity and label claims meet specifications as well as checking for heavy metals, microbiological agents, pesticides, and solvents.

BSCG Certified GMP provides onsite audits to verify that manufacturers are in compliance with Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP).

BSCG Certified CBD offer complete quality solutions for CBD brands that includes a THC limit for drug testing protection, WADA prohibited substance screening, verification of THC and CBD content, contaminant testing, synthetic cannabinoid screening, and evaluation of claims and cGMP compliance.