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Caution: Use Dietary Supplements at Your Own Risk
The third installment of Olympic Coach Harvey Newton's multi-part blog series discusses the challenge of nutritional supplements and anti-doping controls.
"The nutritional supplement industry is largely unregulated," says Olympic Coach Harvey Newton. "Coaches and athletes really need to be careful with supplements. As an example, the September 1 issue of RoadBikeRider.com's weekly newsletter mentioned a study (not cited) that tested 240 US-made supplements and found 45 (18%) tested positive for banned substances!"
The supplement industry is often a popular option for athletes seeking improved performance through legitimate means. Newton continues, "Coaches and athletes both need to be very aware that many of these substances may result in a positive anti-doping result. Please, be very careful with any supplements you may use. Utilize sources like US Anti-Doping Agency’s hotline and website before deciding to try many of these products."
For more on the history of supplements and their role in today's anti-doping programs:
This second part of Olympic Coach Harvey Newton's several part blog series addresses today's anti-doping headlines. He explores the evolution of testing leading to today's standards and suggests that the current situation, including an apparent tightening of eligibility rules for some federations, is not unusual. "Been here, done that," says Coach Newton.
"Over the past 30 or so years we have experienced many ups and downs in drug testing," says Newton. "While we all desire a level playing field and it appears that solid steps are being made for this reality, we still have numerous groups evidently contributing to violations of existing rules."
The anti-doping headlines leading to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro change almost daily. "We're seeing slots open up as a result of some countries losing eligibility positions. But now we see the Rio lab has lost it International Olympic Committee accreditation. The next few weeks, and the results of the Games themselves, will be interesting to watch," says Newton.
A recent roundtable podcast featured Olympic Coach Harvey Newton, along with J.P. Nicoletta and OLift Magazine owner Anton Jefferson. The topics included the impact on weightlifting caused by recent anti-doping headlines, the closure of the weightlifting resident program at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, and the outlook for our lifters at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
"The recent anti-doping headlines coming from the International Weightlifting Federation are signs of promise relative to creating a level playing field," says Coach Newton. "But, as I pointed out on the podcast, we’ve been here before. And, we successfully closed the original resident OTC program in 1984, so this is not the end of the world."
Coaches: Be Prepared for Anti-Doping Control at Big Meets
At national championship events (and many international competitions) anti-doping controls are a reality. Coaches must be prepared for the process in case the authorities select one or more of the coach's lifters to undergo such testing.
"At the USAW Nationals last month both lifters with whom I worked were notified after their final lift that they were to report for collection," Olympic Coach Harvey Newton recently described. "In one case the lifter was a medalist, in the other it was a random selection."
The process used for anti-doping controls has evolved over time. Coach Newton took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with the collection crew on how the current process works. Here is the first of his two-part report dealing with nearly 50 years of drug testing.
New coaches, especially in large class settings, often spend most of their time watching their lifters from the front. While this provides a reasonable angle for evaluating basic technique, "There's a lot to be offered by watching a lifter from all angles," says Olympic Coach Harvey Newton.
As an example of a coach's perspective on a lift and lifter during a typical competition Coach Newton filmed and analyzed TJ Greenstone's personal record C&J at this year's USAW National Championships.
This year's combined USAW National Championships and Olympic Trials were beautifully staged in Salt Lake City. A modest amount of spectators attended the three-day event that featured some outstanding lifting, including USA national records.
"But the meet also showcased a large amount of red on the scoreboard," says Olympic Coach Harvey Newton. "This has been the trend for the past several years, reflecting possible strategic challenges for coaches."
"Red" refers to the number of failed lifts reflected on the large scoreboard viewed by the audience. A successful lift is marked in blue, an unsuccessful lift in red. "The men's 85kg category was amazing," Newton continues. "Only 37% of the attempted snatches were successful; only 32% of the C&J attempts succeeded. No one made six-for-six successful attempts. The first, second, and third place finishers realized 67%, 50%, and 33% success rates."
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the weightlifting certification. It was a major paradigm shift in many ways, especially learning of the important of the power position and ankle mobility for weightlifting.
At first I was somewhat frustrated, as I struggled conceptualizing the teaching of weightlifting in this manner to athletes. Then, I looked at myself in the power position and realized how closely it mimics a vertical jump, and changed my mind. After a week of focus on this position, my dunking ability is improving.
I also really appreciated your honesty on what your experience taught you to be true, and teaching us more useful information than we would have received otherwise. It was great getting to know you as a person and a coach, and I hope all is well with you."