Cycling Australia re-release of Supplements Policy

Posted: April 4, 2013 in Opinion, Tips & Hints


Cycling Australia (CA) re-released their most up-to-date supplements policy (revised November 2012) last month on social media.  I did read it when it came out, but thought I’d review it after the feedback and discussion created by an earlier post on energy drinks.  The document seems to be pretty clear in what it is recommending for juniors, as well as what it is discouraging.

Cycling Australia encourages junior cyclists to pursue excellence in their sport through a combination of structured training programs, healthy and performance-focussed diet and a balanced lifestyle. Cycling Australia (CA) strongly discourages the use of sports performance supplements that have NO nutritional or medical benefit. (eg. caffeine, creatine, pseudoephedrine, carnitine).

With reference to the AIS Supplement Group Classification at:

Cycling Australia strongly discourages the use of all Group B, C, and D supplements for all junior athletes and considers that developing junior athletes have more important priorities and more effective methods for improving their ability to perform at the highest level – specifically: physical conditioning through structured training programs, health-promoting and performance-focussed nutritional practices, natural recovery techniques such as stretching, racing tactics and strategies, technique development etc.

CA does list the supplements it considers safe for junior athletes – a list it refers to as Group A supplements, which includes:

  • Sports drink
  • Electrolyte replacement supplements
  • Liquid meal supplements
  • Whey protein supplements
  • Sports bars
  • Sports gels (non-caffeinated)
  • Sports confectionery (non-caffeinated)
  • Probiotics

They also have an addendum to this list with more inclusions in Group A considered safe with medical supervision.  They are:

  • Multivitamins
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Sick pack (not sure what this is? Any body?)

On top of this, there are some Group A supplement that juniors are strongly discouraged from using.  These include:

  • Creatine
  • Bicarbonate
  • Caffeine
  • Beetroot Juice
  • B-alanine

Interestingly clicking through to the AIS categorisation of these supplements and it appears that Beetroot Juice and B-alanine are actually classified as Group B supplements NOT Group A.  This leads to confusion and needs to be fixed to provide a consistent message.  And speaking of a consistent message, CA released a study espousing the benefits of Beetroot Juice in 2011 and promoted it as part of its e-news.  It was undertaken by Peter Reaburn and can be found here.

Beetroot Juice - OK for Cav, strongly discouraged for juniors.

Beetroot Juice – OK for Cav, strongly discouraged for juniors.

Overall I think its a pretty clear policy. I’m concerned that it can’t be policed nor can action be taken against those juniors who chose not to heed CA’s strong discouragement.

I find the Beetroot Juice issue particularly confusing, especially given recent media around the product.  Even the most recent edition of Matt Keenan’s Bike Lane discusses Beetroot Juice and reveals that no lesser riders as Mark Cavendish and Heinrich Haussler use it and they believe that so does most of the peloton.  If juniors see their heroes using this, they immediately ask why they can’t use it.  It’s a natural vegetable juice after all!  I wonder is the fear that if their use of supplements to try and enhance their performance starts with Beetroot Juice, where will it end.

The other issue I find troubling is that CA doesn’t recognise the terrible effect most sports drinks have on the teeth.  There is a lot of research about this and I think the AIS will find itself sued pretty soon from athletes whose teeth have rotted due to the amount of sports drinks they’ve been fed.  I know one sports drink, Sukkie, has been specially formulated to be kind to the teeth.  I reckon its worth checking this out, especially for juniors.

Don't be like this guy... drink sports drinks that don't rot your teeth.

Don’t be like this guy… drink sports drinks that don’t rot your teeth.

We’re now well and truly into road season… I hope a few of you have registered to ride the Santos Junior Tour in Adelaide or the Wagga Wagga Junior Tour, which I’m told will use much of this year’s Nationals course.  Sorry I’ve been a little quiet… been pretty busy in the real job!  Will try and get a few more posts out in the coming week or two.


  1. Pierre Pino says:

    I think CA has lost the plot on this one, Beet Root juice is a natural food why would you stop kids from drinking it. Also how did CA come to the conclusion that beet juice has no nutritional value? It contains Folate, Manganese, Potassium, Dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. Seriously who wrote this and where did they get their information? I understand about caffeine as it can be dangerous in high doses but beet root juice? Come on. The other issue I have is how are they going to monitor and police this? I’d rather my son drinks a glass of beet juice than a sugary sports drink any day. I hope CA re-thinks this and either reverse their decision or bans it across the board and introduce proper policing measures.

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