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AIS Sports Supplement Program 2000–13

The AIS Sports Supplement Program (‘the Program’) was initiated in 2000 following a major review of supplement practices by AIS athletes and related issues. It was designed to achieve world’s best practice in the research, education and provision of sports foods and supplements for AIS athletes and coaches, including to:

  • allow AIS athletes to focus on sound use of supplements and special sports foods as part of their individual nutrition plans
  • ensure supplements and sports foods are used correctly and appropriately to deliver maximum benefits to the immune system, recovery and performance
  • give AIS athletes the confidence they receive 'cutting-edge' advice and achieve 'state of the art' nutrition practices
  • minimise the risk of supplement use leading to an inadvertent doping offence.

The Program was overseen by the AIS Sports Supplement panel, whose members included those from the AIS and Australian Sports Commission whose roles intersected with supplement use by AIS athletes. The panel regularly updated the principles and practices of the program.

The management of the Program was driven largely by the AIS Sports Nutrition team. The team’s daily activities included the maintenance of high-level education resources related to supplements and sports foods, a proactive research program, and a database to track the use of supplement products by AIS athletes.

The Program provided free and transparent information to its users and the general public about its activities and resources via the AIS sports nutrition section of the Australian Sports Commission website.

The Program was further developed as a leadership activity of the AIS, with its principles and resources offered to national sporting organisations and the National Institute Network (NIN) in Australia via a non-exclusive, royalty-free license.

In 2011 a separate, ‘members area’ version of the Program was developed. This provided upgraded resources to people nominated by national sporting organisations, the NIN and other agencies within the ‘Green and Gold’ campaign for the London 2012 Olympic Games.  The ‘members area’ version was hosted at the password-protected Clearinghouse for Sport. These resources provided specific and additional details of best practice protocols for the use of supplements and sports foods, delivering a competitive advantage to the high performance Australian sports system.

AIS Sports Supplement Framework 2013–current

The closure of AIS sports programs on 31 December 2013 terminated the model under which the AIS controlled and delivered daily training and competition preparation programs to Australian athletes and teams. The operation of the AIS Sports Supplement Program also ceased, with the responsibility for the use of sports foods and supplements within Australia’s high performance sports environment now falling under the oversight of national sporting organisations and other sporting organisations/agencies.

During the transition period of 2013, the AIS identified areas and activities in which it could provide leadership to assist Australian sporting organisations and agencies achieve the governance requirements of the Australian Sports Commission and its performance targets. The spotlight on poor supplement practices among several professional Australian sporting codes or teams highlighted the risks involved with this area of sports nutrition/medicine/science and the value of the expertise gathered by the AIS during the implementation of its Sports Supplement Program from 2000 to 2013.

Interaction with key stakeholders in the Australian sports community — including strategic activities conducted at the AIS Sports Supplement Summit hosted in Canberra in October 2013 — produced the following model to commence implementation in February 2014:

  • The expertise and resources developed during the implementation of the Program have been remodelled into the AIS Sports Supplement Framework. Its aims are to:
    • provide information and tools to assist Australian sporting organisations/agencies develop and implement their own sports supplement programs and guidelines to direct the sports food and supplement use by high performance athletes under their governance
    • facilitate the implementation of other activities related to the safe, effective and legal use of supplements and sports foods in the Australian high performance sports environment.
  • Experts on sports foods and supplements within the AIS have formed two groups to assist with the present and ongoing role of the Framework: the AIS Sports Supplement panel to provide oversight and the Framework management team to drive its daily activities and further development. External experts will be invited to join these groups to provide transparency and ensure the Framework is developed with a national perspective.

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