Klean Athlete, Banned Substances in Sport, and Me

Way back when I was a teenager running the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships, we had a very talented athlete on our team who didn’t ride the team bus with us to the meet. The reason for this was because the previous year, when he did ride the team bus, he had been selected for post-race drug testing but was unable to produce a sample. When it came time for the team bus to leave and he still hadn’t managed to pee, he was forced to ride in the drug van behind the team bus until said sample was provided. So the following year his parents decided to drive him to avoid a repeat installment.

The English Schools’ Cross Country was my first foray into drug-testing at a race. Needless to say I wasn’t in any danger of being tested, as far back in the field as I finished, but I did have to provide a doctor’s note for a prescription I was taking at the time. This was required for any medications any of us were taking.


Milk was in vogue back then…

Fast-forward exactly 20 years and travel 3000 miles. I arrived in Virginia Beach for the Shamrock marathon….and discovered that spring had sprung earlier than in my adopted home of Northern Virginia and the Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. No sooner had I stepped out of the car than I started sneezing. My allergies rapidly worsened to the point where my eyes were so itchy and streaming I couldn’t wear my contacts and I was so congested I could hardly breathe. The morning before race day, I dragged myself to the nearest drugstore in search of whatever meds would alleviate my symptoms. The pharmacy was closed and so I was forced to buy some over-the-counter meds. Turned out the pharmacy’s closure was a good thing, because in my histamine haze I probably would have taken as much pseudoephedrine as possible and not only potentially screwed up my marathon but would also have been under the influence of a banned substance.

Granted, I was not fast enough to be tested, and probably could have protested if I had, but there’s a reason that a stimulant such as psuedoephedrine is banned, and I wouldn’t want to think that my BQ had anything to do with taking a performance-enhancing drug. For once, I was glad the pharmacy was closed.

I was not wearing the sunglasses to look cool but to keep the pollen out of my eyes!

I was not wearing the sunglasses to look cool but to keep the pollen out of my eyes!

Since then, I’ve discovered that banned substances can actually be found in multivitamins, dietary supplements, and sports nutrition products. And that the banned substances are not disclosed on the product labels. According to the NSF, a study funded by the International Olympic Committee in 2004 found that 15% of 634 supplements tested contained steroids prohibited in sport, none of which were declared on the label.

So how do you know if your supplement or multivitamin is safe? If it has the NSF Certified for Sport seal, it has been screened for banned substances and reviewed for toxicology, contaminants, and label claims. You can visit the NSF site for a list of substances banned in sport as well as products with the NSF Certified for Sport seal of approval.

One such range of products that carries the NSF Certified for Sport seal is Klean Athlete. The seven Klean Athlete nutritional supplements were designed to maintain the healthy lifestyle and promote peak performance of athletes, from the weekend warrior to the amateur and professional competitor. I was recently sent samples of  their multivitamin as well as a D-Ribose supplement called Klean Endurance. In addition to being certified free of banned substances, Klean Athlete products don’t contain yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, sugar, or starch and have no artificial coloring, preservatives or flavoring. I’ve been taking the products for the last two weeks.

Klean Athlete collage

Klean Multivitamin

The multivitamin contains all the usual multi stuff as well as a “proprietary blend” of wild blueberry, strawberry, and spinach extracts. You take two tablets daily; they are coated to go down more easily and have a interesting but not gross smell that I can’t quite describe. For someone like me who hates swallowing horse pills, they are great. Do I notice any difference after taking these for two weeks? Well, I can tell you that my nails are much stronger than usual and look really healthy. And I’m someone who chews them off if I’m not in range of nail clippers, can’t stand manicures, and never wears nail polish. I haven’t really noticed anything else, but I was taking a different multi before switching to Klean Multivitamin.

Better than my nails have ever looked! Short-lived though; 2 days later I cut them off!

Better than my nails have ever looked! Short-lived though; 2 days later I cut them off!

Klean Endurance

This chewable tablet intrigued me. Its primary ingredient is D-Ribose which, according to WebMD, is used to improve athletic performance and the ability to exercise by boosting muscle energy. I am training for the Boston Marathon and am running some of my highest mileage weeks right now. While my muscles have definitely felt fatigued after a hard effort or long run, I have been recovering well and am able to meet all of the times and distances set for me. On Sunday I ran 12 miles easy and then jumped into a relay race and ran 5K pace for 3 x 1.4 miles. This is something I would normally have trouble doing but I felt strong throughout the entire workout. I think my training leading up to this is much of the reason for my current performance and certainly wouldn’t say this is a miraculous supplement that is enabling me to run longer, faster, better, but I am intrigued enough to keep taking it and see what happens.  Note that D-Ribose should not be taken by people with low blood sugar.

Timothy Monk, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Douglas Laboratories, which makes the Klean Athlete line, is a multiple marathon and triathlon finisher, including the Ironman World Championships. Monk states, “Many of us are athletes who are passionate about competing at our very best in a natural way and we recognized a need to create products which support – rather than enhance – peak performance.”

What’s nice about these supplements is that I know they’re safe, they are easy to take and don’t taste gross, and I haven’t experienced any side effects from taking them. I am not under the illusion that supplements will suddenly make me a better athlete, but if I am going to take something to support my performance and recovery, you bet I’d rather take something that carries the NSF certification. You never know, maybe that drug van will be looking for me one day…

You can purchase the range of Klean Athlete products, which included the two I sampled as well as Klean Antioxidants, Klean Cognitive, Klean Probiotic, Klean Isolate, and Klean Electrolytes, at kleanathlete.com.

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.

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  1. I had not thought about the fact that runners and racers have to face drug testing. Smart of kleanathlete to address this market and issue. Still laughing at your praise that the product “does not taste gross.” good to know!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Supplements for Boomers: Pure MattersMy Profile

  2. Such a thorough review, Alison! Great post. I’ve been experimenting with Klean Athlete too but hadn’t thought about how it ties into the banned substances in sports as well. Thanks for doing all the background research… I find it fascinating.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..RRCA Certification RecapMy Profile

  3. Nice review Alison, you always cover everything, and are so honest. I trust your reviews, thank you!
    Lisa McClellan recently posted..Kyle’s Krusade ResultsMy Profile

  4. I’ve been enjoying my Klean Athlete products too. Not only am I glad they’re clean in the drug testing sense but that there isn’t a ton of junk in it. Great review!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Keeping it Klean with Klean AthleteMy Profile

  5. you better believe we always check out if its NSF. My husband is UBER paranoid! now, i’ll have to tell him about Klean!
    lindsay recently posted..Recovery Carnival: A Cotter ConcoctionMy Profile

  6. I guess it shows how slow I am if I’ve never even thought about drug testing for myself! But anyhow..very cool that there’s a product out there like this!
    misszippy1 recently posted..Don’t overlook the cool downMy Profile

  7. Thank you for the feedback on our Klean Multivitamin and Klean Endurance! Our entire line is meant to support the overall health and well-being of athletes so you can train and and perform at your very best. Our entire Klean Athlete team wishes you the best of luck this racing season! Train Hard & Stay Klean!

  8. Great review. And I love all the information about banned substances. I’m pretty sure that when I was running my best and set my PR in the marathon, the massive amounts of asthma meds I was taking were probably banned in some way. I think that athletes have to have a waiver or note from their doctor just to use albuterol.

    I’ve been reading a lot about Klean Athlete lately, and their products sound pretty good. I’m happy to see that they have a few vegetarian options. I wish they had a vegan multi.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..What I’m Eating: A Week of Vegan FoodMy Profile

  9. My supplement of choice apparently does not have the NSF Certified for Sport seal on the package, but it DOES have a picture of Fred Flintstone, and that’s good enough for me.

    • Racingtales says:

      Karsten, always appreciate your input! Isn’t that a kids’ vitamin? I’ve been known to snack on my kids’ omega-3 fish from time to time…

  10. Hadn’t heard of this brand before. Love that they’re GF, yeast free, soy free. Will have to look into the Endurance product, would love even some of those results.

  11. I did not know banned substances can be found in so many things. I take allergy meds all the time. I guess it is a good thing I am too slow to BQ and to ever be tested;)
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Happy Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  12. I’ve just started taking Klean Athlete. I have been taking both Endurance and Cognitive. I’ve yet to develop a solid opinion, but after reading your article, the name ‘klean athlete’ makes a lot more sense now…
    TJ recently posted..Many New Products Coming to Hedergy Soon!My Profile

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