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IOC consensus statement: dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete
  1. Ronald J Maughan1,
  2. Louise M Burke2,3,
  3. Jiri Dvorak4,
  4. D Enette Larson-Meyer5,
  5. Peter Peeling6,7,
  6. Stuart M Phillips8,
  7. Eric S Rawson9,
  8. Neil P Walsh10,
  9. Ina Garthe11,
  10. Hans Geyer12,
  11. Romain Meeusen13,
  12. Lucas J C van Loon3,14,
  13. Susan M Shirreffs1,
  14. Lawrence L Spriet15,
  15. Mark Stuart16,
  16. Alan Vernec17,
  17. Kevin Currell18,
  18. Vidya M Ali19,
  19. Richard GM Budgett20,
  20. Arne Ljungqvist21,
  21. Margo Mountjoy22,23,
  22. Yannis P Pitsiladis19,
  23. Torbjørn Soligard20,
  24. Uğur Erdener19,
  25. Lars Engebretsen20
  1. 1 School of Medicine, St Andrews University, St Andrews, UK
  2. 2 Sports Nutrition, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  3. 3 Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Neurology, Schulthess Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
  5. 5 Department of Family & Consumer Sciences (Human Nutrition), University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
  6. 6 School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science), The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
  7. 7 Western Australian Institute of Sport, Mount Claremont, Australia
  8. 8 Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
  9. 9 Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science, Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
  10. 10 College of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK
  11. 11 The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sport, Oslo, Norway
  12. 12 Institute of Biochemistry, Center for Preventive Doping Research, German Sport University, Cologne, Germany
  13. 13 Human Physiology Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium
  14. 14 Department of Human Biology and Movement Sciences, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  15. 15 Human Health & Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  16. 16 BMJ, London, UK
  17. 17 Department of Science and Medicine, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Montreal, Canada
  18. 18 English Institute of Sport, Loughborough, UK
  19. 19 Medical and Scientific Commission, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  20. 20 Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  21. 21 Anti-Doping Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden
  22. 22 Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Health and Performance, Centre University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  23. 23 Medical and Scientific Commission Games Group, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ronald J Maughan, School of Medicine, St Andrews University, St Andrews, UK; ronmaughan{at}


Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition programme. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including (1) the management of micronutrient deficiencies, (2) supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and (3) provision of direct benefits to performance or (4) indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can benefit the athlete, but others may harm the athlete’s health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation (if an antidoping rule violation results). A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialled in training or simulated competition before being used in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the antidoping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete’s health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount; expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before an athlete embarks on supplement use.

  • diet
  • performance

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  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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