Supplement Classification

USSA Supplement Classification System

The USSA has examined the supplements commonly used in elite sport and has categorized them according to their effectiveness:

  • Group A - recommended under supervision

  • Group B - recommended only after approval and under strict conditions

  • Group C - unlikely to work and not recommended

  • Group D - not recommended/banned

Important: “Extreme caution is recommended regarding supplement use. The use of dietary supplements by athletes is a concern because in many countries the manufacturing and labeling of supplements may not follow strict rules, which may lead to a supplement containing an undeclared substance that is prohibited under anti- doping regulations. A significant number of positive tests have been attributed to the misuse of supplements, and taking a poorly labeled dietary supplement is not an adequate defense in a doping hearing.” (WADA, 2009)

Group A Supplements - Recommended under supervision

These sports foods and supplements have been shown to be beneficial in the scientific literature, however, only when used according to specific protocols. Supplementation should only be done in conjuction with a trained professional such as an accredited dietitian or suitably qualified USSA staff member.

  • Antioxidant Vitamins C and E

  • Bicarbonate and Citrate

  • Calcium Supplement

  • Creatine

  • Electrolyte Replacement Supplements

  • Liquid meal supplements

  • Multivitamins and Minerals

  • Sports bars

  • Sports drinks

  • Sports gels

    Group B Supplements - Recommended only after approval and under strict conditions

    These sports foods and supplements need close attention either because the protocols need very close supervision, or failure to adhere to strict protocols may lead to health issues.

  • B-alanine

  • Glutamine

  • HMB

  • Probiotics#

  • Ribose

  • Iron Supplement^

  • Caffeine

# When used to boost the immune system.

^ Should only be done in consultation with USSA Sports Medicine or medical doctor


Group B supplements are only administered after approval from USSA sport science or medicine department under strict conditions. These includes a supervised study or trial involving placebo/control groups and adequate monitoring of performance or health benefits. If considering taking any supplement in this category, please contact your dedicated USSA sport science or medical staff member to arrange a discussion on the rationale behind your decision. Advice on health and performance monitoring, clinical management plan, possible sources and potential for inadvertant doping risk will be given.

Group C Supplements - Unlikely to work and not recommended

These supplements have very little scientific evidence to support their use. In some cases, they have been shown to decrease performance, therefore are not recommended. There are many other supplements that also belong in this category that are not listed here.

  • Branched chain amino acids (& other free-from amino acids)

  • Carnitine

  • Chromium picolinate

  • Coenzyme Q10

  • Cordyceps

  • Cytochrome C

  • Gamma-oryzanol & ferulic acid

  • Ginseng

  • Inosine

  • Nitric oxide supplements

  • Oxygen boosters

  • Pyruvate

  • Rhodiola rosea

  • Vitamin supplements when used in situations other than summarised in Group A

  • ZMA

    Group D Supplements - Not Recommended/Banned

    These supplements are banned or are at high risk of being contaminated with substances that could lead to a positive drug test.

  • Androstenedione

  • 19-norandrostenediol

  • 19-norandrostenedione DHEA

  • Ephedra

  • Strychnine

  • Tribulus terrestris & other herbal testosterone supplements


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