Despite a ban, sports supplements with the banned substance DMAA, a substance similar to amphetamine, can be bought online online. For example in web shops and via Dutch sports influencers on Instagram, according to research by NOS on 3 and master students from the University of Amsterdam.
The range consists of different powders that you can use for sports to get extra energy. The majority of this is legal, but on Instagram and in foreign web shops these pre-workout shakes are also for sale with banned resources.
NOS on 3 went into the world of pre-workout shakes and searched out what's in those powders.
Hanging on the weights is popular. But dragging yourself to the gym after a long day at work is sometimes a challenge. For an extra boost you can go for a banana or a cup of coffee, but there are also powders that give a boost: pre-workout shakes.
This type of means is increasingly being sold, according to figures from market researcher Euromonitor. Especially young athletes regularly take a portion for training. “It gives me an extra boost if, for example, I have a day when I do not feel like going to the gym”, says Frederik Tiquet.
Most of these powders are relatively harmless. Even though doctors warn of high doses. There is a lot of caffeine in addition to other 'stimulating' drugs such as citrulline and beta-alanine; substances that have not been scientifically proven to actually work.
“But there are often very different substances in powder mixtures,” says Bastiaan Venhuis of the RIVM. He researches pots with sports supplements. “We come across everything, sometimes the amounts of the active substances on the labels are not correct, or there is something else in it than there is on the label, sometimes even the prohibited substance DMAA.”
Medications written down
DMAA was banned in 2012 after deaths were linked to sports abroad. No long-term studies have been performed on the side effects of DMAA, but as a precaution it is then prohibited.
The substance resembles amphetamine (speed). “It is actually a written off drug from the 1930s,” explains Venhuis. “It was used against a stuffy nose, but got out of favor because it had side effects and better drugs came on the market.”
A high dose of DMAA can lead to side effects such as palpitations, insomnia and anxiety attacks. The RIVM is concerned about the different substances that are present in the powders. “It is a sort of cat-and-mouse game where the creators always look for a different substance, when one is forbidden.”