Concerned over doping cases in sportspersons, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) today signed an agreement to put in place a system to ensure dope- free sports nutrition supplements are sold in the market. At present, the NADA conducts test on human beings for doping, but there is no mechanism in place to test 'doping substance' in nutrition supplements that are consumed both by sportspersons and fitness enthusiasts. "Doping has been a major concern with us. When we analysed the cases, we found many of the athletes involved in doping were on account of nutrition supplements. We took up with the FSSAI to address the issue," NADA Director General and CEO Navin Agarwal told reporters after the signing of the agreement. The NADA chief added: "This holistic effort aims to provide an ecosystem of safe food for sports professionals across the country. It is one of the significant steps for NADA to ensure healthy and safe supplements for competing athletes." Sportspersons are in a dilemma as to which dietary supplement to use. "Many of them, instead of developing their stamina and physique, end up in doping violation," he said. It is a major public health issue for citizens as well because many of the supplements available in the open market near gyms contain some of the dope substances that are harmful for long-term health of an individual, he said. The need of the hour is to put in place "some sort of facility" to ensure sportspersons do not inadvertently end up doping through supplements. Highlighting the key work areas to be undertaken as per the memorandum of agreement (MoU), FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal said a working group of scientific committee will be set up that will give guidance for setting standards for manufacturers and importers of these products and method of testing doping substance in nutrition supplements. "NADA labs do testing on humans for doping not on substances.
As far as doping substances is concerned, the capacity of our labs has to be built to do the testing," he said, adding that the NADA will help in capacity building of FSSAI-accredited testing labs as well as the regulatory staff. According to the FSSAI chief, the move will ensure food safety ecosystem in sports nutrition becomes more robust over time. The two bodies will also work together to come out with guidance on labelling with instructions on using supplements and printing 'dope-free', he said. "We are also looking at international experiences. We do not find provisions for labelling requirement for doping substances. There are some voluntary efforts around the world, but we are going to study them," the FSSAI chief said. The issues related to surveillance and enforcement as also creating awareness about safe and judicious use of nutrition supplements will also be studied, he added. The MoU signed with the FSSAI is valid for five years. The NADA has recently inked similar agreement with a drug regulator. Despite 300 doped substances banned globally, nearly 10 of them like Diuretics and Hormones are most widely used.
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