The Irish Rugby Football Union’s National Performance Nutritionist Ruth Wood-Martin, today (21st October 2013) warned that young people may be risking their health by using sports supplements, which are widely available, without age restriction, on the internet and in high-street stores.
Ms Wood-Martin and the IRFU believe that the increased popularity of such products, across all ages and all sports, may be due to a lack of understanding of the claims made by manufacturers, many of which are not backed up by scientific evidence.
The IRFU advises all young people to resist supplement use as it issued specific guidelines and recommendations to rugby playing schools and clubs, entitled Sports Supplements and The Young Rugby Player, which is available to download from the IRFU website.
The IRFU will also use Facebook and Twitter to advise teenagers that such products may contain banned substances, which are not stated on the label, and that long-term safety is still unproven, particularly amongst young users.
Ruth Wood-Martin, National Performance Nutritionist with the IRFU, said:
“Often the desire to get physically bigger is the reason young people choose to take supplements, which they see as a quick-fix answer for accelerated growth, but there is little evidence to condone this. Young players will gain size and strength from well-planned training and recovery, supported by good nutritional practices.
The IRFU strongly advises against the use of nutritional aids, in particular creatine, in young players under 18 years of age. Also the use of protein supplements should not be recommended by schools, coaches, teachers or others involved in the training of young athletes.
The IRFU has worked closely with the Irish Sports Council to implement an anti-doping programme at under-age level, as there is a possibility that a sports supplement may contain a banned and possibly harmful substance that a player is unaware of. This could see them fail an anti-doping test or risk their health, so players must take steps to ensure they protect themselves.”