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Are all protein powders at risk of contamination with banned substances?

All dietary supplements, including protein powders, are at risk of contamination with banned substances. Contamination can occur during the manufacturing process or from the use of ingredients that have been intentionally spiked with banned substances to increase their effectiveness. Additionally, some manufacturers may not follow good manufacturing practices or have adequate quality control measures in place, which can increase the risk of contamination.

Several studies have documented instances of protein powders and other dietary supplements being contaminated with banned substances. For example, a study published in 2018 analyzed 16 different protein supplements and found that four of them contained one or more banned substances (1). Another study published in 2017 tested 121 different dietary supplements and found that 12.5% of them were contaminated with anabolic steroids or their analogs (2).

However, it's important to note that not all protein powders are equally at risk of contamination. Manufacturers that follow good manufacturing practices and have rigorous quality control procedures in place are less likely to produce contaminated products. Additionally, protein powders that are certified by third-party organizations, such as Informed-Sport, NSF International, or BSCG Certified Drug-Free, are more likely to be free of banned substances.

Despite these precautions, there is always a risk of contamination with banned substances, and athletes and other individuals who are subject to drug testing should be cautious when using dietary supplements, including protein powders.


  1. Souza TP, et al. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2018;54(3):e17661.
  2. Geyer H, et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017;51(5):342-347.
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