AIS Sports Nutrition


ABCD Classification System

The ABCD Classification system ranks sports foods and supplement ingredients into four groups based on scientific evidence and other practical considerations that determine whether a product is safe, legal and effective in improving sports performance. Decisions regarding the placement of a product are made by an expert group convened by the AIS Sports Supplement Framework to suit the needs and values of Australia’s Winning Edge. These decisions are regularly re-evaluated.

A key goal of the Framework is to minimise the risk of an anti-doping rule violations arising through the use of supplements and sports foods.  During 2015, a separate program will be implemented to facilitate third-party auditing and batch testing of supplements and sports foods within Australia. The Classification system will be updated to include information on individual brands of supplements and sports foods that require auditing ad those which have implemented appropriate programs. 

The Classification system focuses on sports foods and individual ingredients rather than supplement products and brands. The list in each group is identified as ‘examples’ to note the list may not be complete. In addition, the Framework identifies concerns regarding multi-ingredient products.

These products contain a large list of individual ingredients. In some cases the doses of these ingredients are not stated on the label, with the excuse that it is a ‘proprietary blend’ over which the manufacturer has special ownership. 

Concerns about these products include the lack of an effective dose of some of active ingredients, potential for harmful interactions between ingredients and the increased risk of inadvertent contamination due to the sourcing of ingredients from various locations.  Unless an expert panel has deemed such a product is likely to be safe and effective, it should not be included in sports supplement programs. Furthermore, they should be identified as high priority for third-party audit programs.

Group A

Overview of category Sub-categories Examples

Evidence level:

Supported for use in specific situations in sport using evidence-based protocols.



Use within supplement programs:

Provided or permitted for use by some athletes according to best practice protocols.

Sports foods — specialised products used to provide a practical source of nutrients when it is impractical to consume everyday foods.

Sports drink

Sports gel

Sports confectionery

Liquid meal

Whey protein

Sports bar

Electrolyte replacement

Medical supplements — used to treat clinical issues, including diagnosed nutrient deficiencies. Requires individual dispensing and supervision by appropriate sports medicine/science practitioner

Iron supplement

Calcium supplement


Vitamin D

Probiotics (gut/immune)

Performance supplements — used to directly contribute to optimal performance. Should be used in individualised protocols under the direction of an appropriate sports medicine/science practitioner. While there may be a general evidence base for these products, additional research may often be required to fine-tune protocols for individualised and event-specific use.




Beetroot juice


 Notes about updates to Group A:

  • Several products previously included in Group B have been elevated to Group A (for example, beetroot juice/nitrate and B-alanine).
  • Group A supplements have been separated into three sub-groups (sports foods, medical supplements and performance supplements) to note the different focus of their actions and the different provision models that should be involved in their use.
  • Fact sheets will be provided for all Group A supplements.
  • Research summaries will be provided for all Group A performance supplements.


Group B

Overview of category Sub-categories Examples

Evidence level:

Deserving of further research and could be considered for provision to athletes under a research protocol or case-managed monitoring situation.


Use within supplement programs:

Provided to athletes within research or clinical monitoring situations.


Food polyphenols — food chemicals which have purported bioactivity, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. May be consumed in food form or as isolated chemical.


Tart cherry juice

Exotic berries (acai, goji etc.)



Anti-oxidants C and E

Fish oils

 Notes about updates to Group B:

  • Fact sheets will be provided for all Group B supplements.
  • Research summaries will be provided for all Group B supplements.
  • The development of monitoring and research tools to use with Group B supplements is a high priority activity for the Framework.

Group C

Overview of category Sub-categories Examples

Evidence level:

Have little meaningful proof of beneficial effects.


Use within supplement programs:

Not provided to athletes within supplement programs.


May be permitted for individualised use by an athlete where there is specific approval from (or reporting to) a sports supplement panel.

Category A and B products used outside approved protocols.

See list for Category A and B products.

The rest — if you can’t find an ingredient or product in Groups A, B or D, it probably deserves to be here.


Note that the Framework will no longer name Group C supplements or supplement ingredients in this top line layer of information. This will avoid the perception that these supplements are special.


Fact sheets and research summaries on some supplements of interest that belong in Group C may be found via on the ‘A–Z of Supplements’ page in the  AIS Sports Nutrition section of the ASC website.

 Notes about updates to Group C:

  • Group C has been simplified to remove the names of individual ingredients following feedback that products gain ‘notoriety’ due to their placement in this group.
  • Fact sheets and research summaries may be produced on ingredients in this group but will be presented on the website as part of an ‘A–Z of supplements’ compilation. The fact sheet will identify that such ingredients have been placed in the Group C category without drawing undue attention to them.


Group D

Overview of category use within AIS system Sub-categories Examples

Evidence level:

Banned or at high risk of contamination with substances that could lead to a positive drug test.


Use within supplement programs:

Should not be used by athletes.






Methylhexanamine (DMAA)

Other herbal stimulants

Prohormones and hormone boosters






Other prohormones

Tribulus terrestris and other testosterone boosters

Maca root powder

GH releasers and ‘peptides’

Technically, while these are sometimes sold as supplements (or have been described as such) they are usually unapproved pharmaceutical products.




Glycerol used for re/hyperhydration strategies — banned as a plasma expander

Colostrum - not recommended by WADA due to the inclusion of growth factors in its composition

 Notes about updates to Group D:

  • ‘Peptides’ has been added as a new sub-category .
  • The sub-categories are hyperlinked to WADA list to place responsibility on athlete to check for banned substances and to note that items named in the list are examples rather than an exhaustive list.
  • Colostrum and glycerol have been maintained in Group D due to the concerns expressed by WADA.

Follow us

follow us on facebook follow us on youtube follow us on twitter follow us on instagram