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Can protein powder cause a positive drug test for banned substances?

Yes, it is possible for a protein powder to cause a positive drug test for banned substances. Some protein powders may be contaminated with trace amounts of banned substances, such as anabolic steroids or stimulants, that can cause a positive drug test.

Several studies have documented instances of athletes testing positive for banned substances as a result of using contaminated dietary supplements, including protein powders. For example, a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2017 found that four out of 17 tested protein supplements contained traces of prohibited substances (1). Another study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology in 2011 found that 15 out of 21 tested dietary supplements, including protein powders, contained steroids that were not listed on the product label (2).

To reduce the risk of testing positive for banned substances, athletes and other individuals who are subject to drug testing should be cautious when using dietary supplements, including protein powders. They should choose products that have been certified by third-party organizations, such as Informed-Sport, NSF International, or BSCG Certified Drug-Free, which test for banned substances and provide a higher level of assurance that the product is free from contamination. Additionally, individuals should always consult with their healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before using dietary supplements to ensure that they are safe and appropriate for their needs.


  1. Van Thuyne W, et al. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:30.
  2. Geyer H, et al. J Anal Toxicol. 2011;35(7):408-422.
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