Overview

Due to the competitive nature of tennis and its physiological demands, it is not surprising that some players are tempted to take supplements as part of their diet in order to maximise performance.

Supplements should be regarded with caution, as there is a substantial risk of contamination with prohibited substances and/or substances that are hazardous to health. Supplements are not classed as foods, and so are not subject to the same manufacturing standards. For this reason, you cannot always rely on the list of ingredients.

Several Anti-Doping Rule Violations under the TADP (Tennis Anti Doping Programme) have occurred due to the presence of prohibited substances in supplements consumed.

Supplements from all regions may pose an elevated risk of an anti-doping violation. Players in South America should be on particularly high alert to the use of supplements, including those prepared in pharmacies, as several violations arising from supplements prepared by similar sources have occurred in that region.

The ITIA does not recommend the use of any supplements. In most cases, a balanced diet of normal foods is sufficient to meet nutritional requirements. Players are encouraged to assess the need for a supplement and then to assess the risks these can pose.


If, despite this warning, you still wish to take supplements, then organisations such as Informed Sport (www.informed-sport.com), NSF (www.nsfsport.com) and HASTA (www.hasta.org.au) conduct batch testing of supplements and certifies those batches that are found to be free of prohibited substances. Just because a batch has been approved does not mean that the product as a whole is approved by such companies; only the batch numbers that have been tested carry the least risk.

Players should not believe any warranties that appear on supplements, for example that they are WADA or IOC approved or that they are free from banned substances. WADA nor the IOC approve supplements. No manufacturer of supplement is currently able to state with certainty that their product is free from banned substances.

Current warnings

Possible meat contamination

Anabolic agents are prohibited for Players at all times and at any concentration. However, certain anabolic agents may be used in certain countries as a livestock growth promoter. Depending on the circumstances, the consumption of meat containing residues of such anabolic agents may lead to very low concentrations of those anabolic agents and/or their Metabolites(s) in an Player’s urine.

Due to ongoing concerns over contaminated food in certain parts of the world, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) continues to emphasize the need for players to exercise extreme caution with regards to eating meat in China, Mexico and Guatemala.

  • Clenbuterol is used in China, Mexico, and Guatemala as a growth promoter for cattle, lamb, poultry, and swine.
  • Ractopamine is used in certain countries as a growth promoter for cattle, swine, and large breed turkeys.
  • Zeranol is used in many countries as a growth promoter for cattle.
  • Zilpaterol is used in certain countries as a growth promoter for cattle.

Players continue to be advised to eat only in restaurants and cafeterias that have been approved by your federation and/or event organizer. 

Tennis players are known to have been among those whose anti-doping samples have been found to contain Trenbolone and Clenbuterol, and in so doing have exposed themselves to the risk of being charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. 

 

Higenamine 

Specific warnings have been issued by the TADP for MHA, DMBA, GW501516 and Higenamine.  

Hydrochlorothiazide is also a known ingredient in supplements. However, you should not assume that a product without these substances on its ingredients list is free from risk. Certification or other guarantees of purity will not excuse a positive anti-doping test. 

All players are strongly advised to follow the advice where possible: 

  • Eat only in restaurants and cafeterias that have been approved by your federation and/or event organiser. 
  • When eating outside these designated cafeteria and restaurants, try to do so with others. 
  • If possible, avoid beef or liver. Instead, consider eating chicken or fish as a source of iron and protein.

Checking supplements

If you would like to check whether a supplement or medication contains a prohibited substance; please complete a 'Product Information Request' form on the ITIA app available on Android and Apple devices.

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