According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), there are almost 300 banned substances, some of which are in popular gym supplements responsible for athletes losing medals or disqualification from competition.

For the longest time, professional athletes have been the subject of issues surrounding illegal substances and “banned” supplements, with some of them losing medals when their blood test results showed positive for banned substances.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), there are almost 300 banned substances, some of which are in popular gym supplements. Most of them are testosterone replacers, fat burners, and growth hormones.

For sports, WADA has banned the following ingredients and drugs:


  • Adrafinil
  • Amfepramone
  • Amfetamine
  • Amfetaminil
  • Amiphenazole
  • Benfluorex
  • Benzylpiperazine
  • Bromantan
  • Clobenzorex
  • Cocaine
  • Cropropamide
  • Crotetamide
  • Fencamine
  • Fenetylline
  • Fenfluramine
  • Fenproporex
  • Fonturacetam , [4-phenylpiracetam (carphedon)];
  • Furfenorex
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Mefenorex
  • Mephentermine
  • Mesocarb
  • Metamfetamine(d-)
  • P-methylamfetamine
  • Modafinil
  • Norfenfluramine
  • Phendimetrazine
  • Phentermine
  • Prenylamine
  • Prolintane
  • 3-methylhexan-2-amine (1,2-dimethylpentylamine)
  • 4-methylhexan-2-amine (methylhexaneamine)
  • 4-methylpentan-2-amine (1,3-dimethylbutylamine)
  • 5-methylhexan-2-amine (1,4-dimethylpentylamine)
  • Benzfetamine
  • Cathine**
  • Cathinone , and its analogues, e.g. mephedrone, methedrone, and α-pyrrolidinovalerophenone;
  • Dimetamfetamine (dimethylamphetamine)
  • Ephedrine***
  • Epinephrine**** (adrenaline)
  • Etamivan
  • Etilamfetamine
  • Etilefrine
  • Famprofazone
  • Fenbutrazate
  • Fencamfamin
  • Heptaminol
  • Hydroxyamfetamine (parahydroxyamphetamine)
  • Isometheptene
  • Levmetamfetamine
  • Meclofenoxate
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine
  • Methylephedrine***
  • Methylphenidate
  • Nikethamide
  • Norfenefrine
  • Octopamine
  • Oxilofrine (methylsynephrine)
  • Pemoline
  • Pentetrazol
  • Phenethylamine , and its derivatives;
  • Phenmetrazine
  • Phenpromethamine
  • Propylhexedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine*****
  • Selegiline
  • Sibutramine
  • Strychnine
  • Tenamfetamine (methylenedioxyamphetamine)
  • Tuaminoheptane


  • Buprenorphine
  • Dextromoramide
  • Diamorphine (heroin)
  • Fentanyl , and its derivatives;
  • Hydromorphone
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Nicomorphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Pentazocine
  • Pethidine


  • Natural cannabinoids, e.g. cannabis, hashish and marijuana,
  • Synthetic cannabinoids e.g. D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabimimetics.

Except cannabidiol


  • Betamethasone
  • Budesonide
  • Cortisone
  • Deflazacort
  • Dexamethasone
  • Fluticasone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Prednisolone
  • Prednisone
  • Triamcinolone

Different kinds of Beta Blockers in general are also prohibited in specific sports. These include:

  • Acebutolol
  • Alprenolol
  • Atenolol
  • Betaxolol
  • Bisoprolol
  • Bunolol
  • Carteolol
  • Carvedilol
  • Celiprolol
  • Esmolol
  • Labetalol
  • Metipranolol
  • Metoprolol
  • Nadolol
  • Oxprenolol
  • Pindolol
  • Propranolol
  • Sotalol
  • Timolol

Some of the common compounds that have actually lead to disqualifications and outright bans are composed of anabolic steroids and beta blockers.


Steroids, as you may well know, are performance enhancers. They are synthetically produced testosterone that allows an athlete to “ignore” fatigue and their body’s natural limitations when it comes to endurance, strength, and pain tolerance. They can also significantly increase muscle mass as well as make a user have a more aggressive mood. Some of the more commonly abused steroids are Deca-Durabolin, Durabolin, Winstrol, and Equipoise – with the last one initially intended for horse use.

One athlete from South Africa was banned for over 4 years from competing due to testing positive for methandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers like propranolol on the other hand aren’t exactly performance enhancers, but it can act as an anxiolytic which can remove the “cold feet” experienced by an athlete.

In the case of sports that require dexterity and accuracy such as archery, beta blockers can help prevent hand tremors as well as the rapid heart rate and head sweats associated with fear and nervousness. Beta blockers are also banned because some of them can mask performance enhancers in drug tests, such as the recent news about an MLB player who tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide.

Apart from steroids and beta blockers, sports organizations also caution against non-prescription sexual enhancement products and other supplements and sports drinks. They found that these products can contain compounds that will come out positive during drug tests.

One example of an athlete not knowing what was in their supplement was Philippine basketball player Kiefer Ravena who tested positive for three banned substances he acquired from taking a pre-workout drink. These compounds were 4-methylhexan-2-amine (methylhexaneamine), 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (DMBA), and higenamine.

With a vast array of banned substances, you have to make sure you do your due diligence when it comes to checking if your supplement is certified for sport. That’s actually harder than it sounds and can take a lot of time when out buying supplements. Thankfully, one organization is paid to let athletes know whether a supplement is certified for sport or not. This organization is the NSF. Be sure to check your supplement labels for the NSF Certification for Sport Stamp of Approval.

Looking for products that meet this requirement? Click here.


World Anti-Doping Agency. World Anti-Doping Agency. Published 2019. Accessed September 11, 2019.

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