26th February 2021
In view of the publication of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) Standard on Doping prevention in sport – Good development and manufacturing practices aimed at preventing the presence of prohibited substances in food intended for sportspeople and food supplements, the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), the trade association representing the voice of the sports and active nutrition sector in Europe, would like to take this opportunity to express its views on the standard and provide further clarification on some key points.
As an active liaison body to the CEN, ESSNA has been actively contributing to the development of the standard, providing added-value expertise on the issue of tackling inadvertent doping to ensure that the standard was robust enough in setting out good manufacturing practices aimed at preventing the presence of prohibited substances in food intended for sportspeople and food supplements while also specifying that the standard does not lead to any form of product endorsement.
ESSNA considers it vital that sportspeople, both professional and amateur, and the general consumer, are protected in the fullest way possible from consuming products which may contain ingredients that are on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list, and which are not declared on the product itself. This is why ESSNA believes that the standard could have the potential to be a good example of best practice in manufacturing. However, ESSNA believes that the standard does not provide sufficient guarantees to adequately protect consumers, athletes and businesses. In particular, the standard has the potential to be misleading should it be perceived by athletes and sportspeople alike as providing reassurance that products that abide by the standard are doping-free.
ESSNA is also of the view that the standard, albeit only voluntary, risks setting the bar low by not directly encouraging the industry to undergo product testing, which is the only way to provide some reassurance. While the sports nutrition industry has made a lot of efforts to improve their reputation, the standard does not help manufacturers nor consumers. ESSNA recommends that additional product testing is carried out, in line with the views of anti-doping agencies.
ESSNA also regrets that the scope of the standard is limited to only food intended for sportspeople and food supplements. ESSNA had long advocated for the standard to cover all food products. Since sports nutrition products are regulated under General Food Legislation and in light of the growing number of mainstream products targeting the physically active, limiting the scope of the standard to sports foods is inappropriate and impractical.
As a final point, ESSNA would like to stress that the development of this standard, albeit entirely voluntary and not setting any legally binding provisions in any way, should have been adopted in consultation with a broader number of stakeholders, to allow those in the anti-doping world to share their expertise and raise any concerns from the practical implementation of the standard, including any risks to athletes.
ESSNA would always encourage its members and sports nutrition companies to use all tools to improve their manufacturing practices and it has developed, as part of its Code of Practice, guidance to minimise the risk of inadvertent doping. Such a risk cannot be eliminated entirely, as with any other food sector in Europe, and no company should be making claims to this affect. However, by taking some of the steps that ESSNA has identified, businesses will be able to significantly reduce the risk of inadvertent doping.
Notes for the editor
Founded in 2003, ESSNA is the trade association representing the interests of the sport nutrition sector across Europe. A full list of members of the Alliance can be found here. With 35+ companies from across Europe, ESSNA acts as a forum for discussion and a vehicle for action for the sports nutrition sector by working closely with legislators, regulators and enforcement bodies to ensure that the sports nutrition products are safe, effective, easily available and transparent. ESSNA’s priorities for 2019-2024 are included in the manifesto: Towards a Healthier, Fitter Future.
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