The sports professionals suffer a setback each time an issue related to doping makes headlines. Most often it is the contamination of food supplements which causes a doping issue. Since there are a large number of nutritional food supplements, it often becomes difficult to find traces of banned or adulterated substances in the open market as they are spread wide and variety is huge.
Therefore, with the shared vision to ensure the availability of safe and dope free dietary or nutritional supplements to augment the health and nutritional needs of sportspersons Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is likely to support the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). FSSAI has, in fact, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NADA which is being seen as an endeavor to focus on ensuring coordination of co-operative activities within Government agencies to address the issue of doping substances and other adulterants and contamination in food supplements and nutritional products used in sports.
A press conference was called in this regard where the CEO, FSSAI Shri Pawan Agarwal informed the attendees that this joint effort by FSSAI and NADA intends to develop and strengthen co-operation in the field of Sports Nutrition so that healthy nutrition practices enhance lifelong health and fitness of competing athletes. Along with the joint venture an effective regulatory system that works towards ensuring safety and quality of sports-nutrition supplements and food products would enable a strong mechanism to curb the availability of contaminated nutritional food supplements in the open market. In due course of time, the food safety eco-system in sports nutrition could become more robust.
On the other hand Shri. Navin Aggarwal, DG & CEO, NADA stated that the holistic effort would help to provide an eco-system of safe food for sports professionals across the country. He called the joint venture a significant step to ensure that competing athletes are provided safe and healthy supplements. This initiative will introduce a collaborative programme to disseminate information on the judicious use of health supplements.
As a part of the MoU, a Working Group has been set-up which will comprise of the member(s) of the FSSAI scientific panel on functional foods, nutraceuticals, dietetic products, and other similar products along with representatives of NADA. Representatives of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Narcotics Control Bureau and others could also be co-opted into the Working Group as and when required.
The areas of potential cooperation and the development of further understanding under this agreement include following key areas:
- Provide guidance on the use of and labeling claims for supplements or products for special dietary purposes meant for sports
- Undertake surveillance and enforcement activities for both domestically produced and imported sports-nutrition supplements or products with a focus on any use doping substances and other adulterants in such products and on any type of counterfeit products
- Build capacity of the regulatory staff for effective surveillance and enforcement activities at the ground level
- Build capacity in FSSAI notified primary and referral laboratories for detection of doping substances and adulterants in sports-nutrition supplements or products. Five such labs will be identified for this purpose
- Provide education and awareness support for the safe and judicious use of sports-nutrition supplements or products through guidance documents, training and awareness programme in partnership with other stakeholders