When purchasing supplements it is important that you choose a quality brand. It isn’t an area where you want to be cheap and try to save a few bucks. Normally products that are cheap are cheap for a reason. They often contain inferior ingredients, sometimes the ingredients in the product don’t match the claims on the label, and they can also have things in the product that shouldn’t be in them such as heavy metals and pesticides.
This is a problem for everyone as we don’t want to be putting more toxic things into our bodies and we don’t want to waste our money on a product that isn’t what we thought it was. For the athlete though it is something that could potentially ruin your career. If you take a supplement and it has a banned substance in it you will be in for a long drawn out process. Basically, if you test positive to a banned substances they will ask what you have been taking and if you say it was a supplement. They will try and buy the same batch and they will test that product to see if there are trace amounts in that as well. If they do find that the product is the problem then you may be right to compete but this could take a long time and you may be sitting out of your sport for some time and missing out on opportunities. That is the best case scenario. Worst case, you could cop a ban and be labelled a cheat for the rest of your career. So it is important to take as many steps as possible to ensure you minimise this risk.
I think the biggest problems are with the pre-workout formulas and some of the “testosterone boosting” type products most commercial body building companies promote. If you take single ingredient or small ingredient supplements like magnesium glycinate for example, I don’t think you run as high of a risk. Again a quality brand has to be used though. If you think about how many supplements are out there claiming to increase muscle mass or strength by “x” amount, how do you separate yourself from the competitors? Well, you could lace your product with some illegal ingredient. Everyone gets jacked, and starts talking about your product. Sales increase because everyone is getting results and then you take out the illegal ingredient as you are now known to have a product that “works”. After a while people stop getting the gains they first saw but they say “I have just adapted to it”. And everyone goes on about their daily lives searching for the next thing that will get them their “gains”.
When looking for a quality brand I think you should be looking for a company that can provide all certificates of analysis from their raw materials and finished product testing from an independent or third party. The independent lab analysis monitors for potential contaminants and tests to see that the product matches what is on the label.
The easiest way to do this is to make sure the company complies with good manufacturing processes or GMPs. If the company has NSF certification then this will help ensure the GMPs. This is a third party validation of the companies GMPs. You can
look for the NSF logo and the NSF certified for sport logo which I have used at the top of the article. That is probably the quickest way and easiest way to minimise the chances of a positive test. I don't rate all the products that they have listed, so I am not suggesting you take any of those supplements to improve your performance. It is purely to minimise the chances of the product being laced with something.
I am far from an expert on this topic but I have been tested many times in my career as an athlete and I have had many clients who have been tested and their supplements have never been an issue by following these recommendations. We use many different brands and a lot of different types of products but they are all quality.
You should also look at the WADA website and check the prohibited list to make sure none of your medications or anything your doctor prescribes for you are on the list.