The Australian Football League (AFL) is arguably the one Australian code of football that has been hardest hit by the recent highly publicised Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport, commissioned by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and published in February 2013. As a result of this report and the ensuing events, there has been heightened scrutiny of nutritional supplements and an increased focus on defining or ascertaining what oral sports supplements are approved for use by football codes such as the AFL. This article will present some guidelines for parties involved in professional Australian football codes such as AFL on how to select supplements that carry minimal risk of breaching any of the WADA code or recent AFL treatment rules governing supplementation and medical treatments for AFL players.
To better understand how to choose supplements that carry minimal risk of containing prohibited or banned substances, one must have a basic understanding of the legislative framework that Australian sports supplement manufacturers are expected to work within. In Australia, manufacture and sale of nutritional food supplements is regulated by a body called Food Standards Australia New Zealand (ANZFSA). However, complementary medicines such as vitamins, minerals and fish oil that carry therapeutic claims and come in tablet, capsule or softgel form are regulated by a body called Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Regulations concerning manufacturing of complementary medicines are much stricter and more highly regulated, moreover, the cost of manufacturing complementary medicines is significantly higher than food supplements.