Training better than drugs

2008-02-22 00:00

Athletes should train properly and eat a balanced diet rather than take sports supplements that could potentially harm the body.

That is the advice of South Africa’s foremost sport scientist and an international authority on several matters pertaining to the science of sport, Professor Timothy Noakes, addressing the growing problem of sports supplements and steroids among young sports stars.

Noakes was the guest speaker at the Discovery SharkSmart at Sibaya Casino in Durban.

He told the audience that billions of rands are wasted each year on sports supplements that do not work.

The Discovery SharkSmart programme is a positive approach to injury prevention and performance and is aimed at amateur players in KwaZulu-Natal. It was started after the high rate of catastrophic sports-related injuries.

“The only thing that drives this billion dollar industry is the greed of certain people,” he said.

He said that these drugs are unsafe as sports supplements do not go through the same testing as pharmaceutical drugs.

“The industry is not regulated in South Africa so there’s no proper testing. The industry does not regulate itself as it should,” he said.

Noakes said that the long-term safety of most products is unknown as many are never tested and there is a lack of quality assurance.

“Training, gym and a proper diet have far greater benefits than these supplements will ever give,” he said.

During the presentation, Noakes said that doping has become an accepted part of sport and it gives certain athletes an unfair advantage

He said that doping control is not in the interests of national government because it wants athletes to bring home gold medals.

“Sporting bodies also don’t want it because athletes can generate money by winning.

“Pharmaceutical companies will not campaign for doping control due to the money involved,” he added.

Noakes said that although most supplements are effective and harmless, some carry health risks.

“There are cheaper and more effective methods of achieving success,” he said.

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