TODAY’S blog is focussed around the rather stimulating topic of inadvertent drug use in sport, and how today’s boxers can do their best to keep “clean” in the, often dirty, world of nutritional supplementation.

So – what are the rules? What does a boxer have to do to stay within the rules? Well, it’s quite simple. A boxer must not take any substance – knowingly or unknowingly – that contravenes the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) regulations. England Boxing (the ABA) take their lead on drugs from WADA, as do most of the governing bodies in professional boxing (although they seem to interpret these rules in a rather inconsistent manner, influenced by the particular alphabet organisation, the prestige of the boxer involved and the potential loss of sanctioning fees!). This approach, whereby the presence of a drug rather than the intention to cheat is an offence, reflects WADA’s strict liability doctrine where athletes are liable even if they inadvertently take any form of potentially performance enhancing substance. As a result, taking a contaminated, or stimulant-containing pre-training supplements, or even an over-the-counter medicine could result in a failed drug test. Please also remember that even vitamins, minerals and innocuous health-food supplements could be contaminated. Amateur championships (national and international) see drug testing throughout, while England Boxing even reserve the right to conduct random drug tests in training camps. Professionals are generally only tested at competitions, although more boxers are signing up to voluntary drug testing, where random tests are being brought into boxers’ training camps.

So what is the risk? I’m sure many boxers have the “it’ll never happen to me” mentality, and indeed, many nutritionists I’ve worked with have been similarly blasé about the risks of supplementation. However, as the number of high profile failed drugs tests increases, the boxing world is starting to take the threat more seriously. Everyone knows someone who has been caught out… For example, Dillian White is only now boxing again, after taking an enforced two-year leave of absence from the sport. He failed a drug test after taking Jack-3D, a pre-training stimulant supplement that contains the banned substance methylhexylamine (MHA). This same stimulant was also a potent ingredient in Enzo Maccarelleni’s six month ban, while in 2010 the entire South African rugby team were lucky to escape bans from international competition after they took a similar pre-match stimulant. What was particularly complicated in this instance is that their supplements were actually batch tested – albeit before the rules changed and MHA moved from being on the monitored list, to the WADA banned list!

What you can do:

So – ignorance is no excuse. A competitive boxer today must exercise the utmost caution, as no matter who advised them, no matter what the label said; the boxer is ultimately responsible for what is in their body. There are a few simple precautions a boxer can take regarding supplementation:

Recruit a qualified professional

A visit to a GP will help you understand if you really need to supplement or are deficient in any particular nutrient, while registered nutritionist/dieticians on the SENr register (me, for example) will have had to demonstrate a certain knowledge of working with athletes for accreditation.

Supplement only when necessary

Many athletes look for any advantage they can get, but remembering that nutrition only helps you push yourself harder, and that there are no short-cuts should help a boxer put things into context. Consider portable, convenient foods (such as milk powder, dried foods and jerky for example) as a way to achieve your desired nutritional intake before reverting to supplements.

Go for supplements on the Informed Sport programme

These supplements are listed along with their batch numbers, to allow you to cross-reference products on the shelves.

Not all companies that batch test are part of the Informed Sport programme – so also look out for those that conduct their own, in-house WADA testing. Just be aware that in this instance, you’re taking the company’s word on it…

Avoid certain supplements with a greater risk of contamination, or those that typically contain stimulants. These include (but are not limited to) fat-burners, pre-training stimulants (“pre-trainers”), herbal products etc. Look out for ridiculous claims, pictures of massive body-builders, images of flames, and the gratuitous use of words like “anabolic” “explode” etc; your food shouldn’t be branded like a war movie.

Run any medications past the globaldro website.

You wouldn’t be the first athlete to get banned (or even stripped of a medal) after taking a nasal decongestant!

Get in touch to arrange nutritional support by phoning 07746075161, emailing me at, or via my website,

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*