Post match review

Members of the SENr Board have provided a summary on the talks from the event on 4 November 2016.

SENr Chair Dr Stuart Galloway chaired the morning session on regulating the profession which included talks from Irene Riach and Terence O'Rorke, and Professor Sue Backhouse and Nuala Deans. Below, Stuart provides his reflection on the sessions.

SENr supplement statement launch with Irene Riach and Terence O'Rorke

The SENr supplement statement was launched by Irene Riach who spoke about the prevalence of supplement use in elite sport and the risks associated with contaminated supplements. Given that the legislation includes the role of practitioners in any anti-doping rule violations, Irene highlighted that it is critical for sport and exercise nutrition professionals to maintain good record keeping, and to ensure that a full needs analysis has been performed prior to using a supplement. Irene also highlighted the need for batch testing of supplements and the use of informed sport approved products.

She closed by reminding delegates that the supplement statement should be a useful working document, and a means of maintaining records of decisions around supplement use, which could prove invaluable in the event of any anti-doping rule violation. Terence O'Rorke then spoke briefly about the processes involved in obtaining Informed Sport approval and the manufacturing standards required. He highlighted the size and growth of the supplement industry. He particularly pointed out that Informed Sport testing is not an approval of whether a product is useful or not, it is purely a kite mark test which confirms that a product is free from contaminants that could lead to an anti-doping rule violation.

In pursuit of clean sport: evidence informed policy making with Professor Sue Backhouse and Nuala Deans

Professor Sue Backhouse spoke about her work on understanding drivers for supplement use in sport. She highlighted the issue of young adolescent sport participants gaining information and adopting the use of nutrition products from a 'conversation creating culture' environment not based on sound evidence. Given the numbers of athletes testing positive following use of supplements that contain banned substances, her work on understanding the decision processes is critical to changing behaviours. She highlighted one study in which high school level rugby players were found to adopt the gym culture of having a protein shake following any weight lifting sessions. Participants in her studies indicated that this 'is just what you do' and did not question the validity or requirement for additional protein from a supplement. More worrying was the use of pre-workout hits by adolescent/youth players and their lack of knowledge about batch testing and informed sport branding. The players tended to follow what their teachers/coaches did and gained insight from online forums and YouTube rather than using any robust evidence sources. Sue's research emphasises the vast amount of work that is still to be done to change attitudes and behaviours towards supplement use in school aged children.

Nuala then explained the anti-doping education available through UKAD and the importance of UKAD engaging with the SENr and the supplement industry. She also highlighted the complex landscape involved in doping prevention and the important role that practitioners have in getting the messages across. Nuala then described the SENr/UKAD clean sport commitment for practitioners and the supplement statement document which can aid in supporting athletes by ensuring that a full needs assessment is performed. She reiterated the need to assess the risks and consider the consequences before using any supplements.


Sharon Madigan chaired the Sports Nutrition Group session. This session was an applied practical session with the endurance thread running throughout. Talks were provided by Rin Cobb, Ana Anton-Solanas and Renee McGregor.

The challenges of putting guidelines into practice – the cold truth, Rin Cobb

Rin Cobb gave both a professional and personal account of the challenges that surround applying evidence based guidelines to female polar explorers when there is very little specific evidence available in the literature. She described the practicalities of explorers who will spend 10 hours per day for 75 days moving across Antarctica. Boredom was something that raised its head in this presentation but also in the next presentation when dealing with athletes completing ultra endurance events. Rin hopes to collect data which will help broaden the base of information available to practitioners dealing with female ultra endurance athletes.

Case study on an ultra-endurance female cyclist during Race Across America, Ana Anton-Solanas

Ana Anton-Solanas continued on the theme and presented on a case study of a female cyclist completing the Race Across America. Heat and altitude were just some of the environmental issues that the team prepped for. Preliminary work had been carried out in the lab to look at sweat rate and composition and to address this, bespoke drinks were formulated. The aim was to achieve 90g CHO/H but in reality it was probably closer to 60g/h. Ana described in great detail some of the issues facing the athlete such as saddle sores, fatigue, falling asleep on the bike and again boredom was a major issue over such a long time.

The art of caring for the elite athlete – performance is just one point of the triangle, Renee McGregor

Renee McGregor presented a case study on a female endurance athlete with a history of eating disorder and injury. Renee reminded us that performance is only one part of caring for the athlete and other areas such as the health of the athlete and emotional strength need to be addressed. She discussed how an inappropriate "race weight" had affected overall health including menstruation and injury and although the athlete had been eating well, her overall energy availability was not enough to sustain the training she was doing. Over time, with help, a more balanced approach to health and performance was achieved.

Following the three presentations there were some great questions from the floor which teased out some of the issues further and made us think about the fine line that there is between healthy and not-healthy athletes in endurance sports.


Richard Chessor chaired the afternoon session which included Dr Glen Davison, Dr James Morton and Terence O'Rorke and below, Richard provides his comments on the session.

The afternoon session contained three presentations and started with two looking at new research and application of nutritional interventions in endurance exercise. 

Dr Glen Davison

Dr Glen Davison focused on the ability of nutritional strategies to influence gastrointestinal health in endurance athletes. Dr Davison highlighted the prevalence and range of symptoms often experienced by endurance athletes before discussing the potential factors contributing to and causing these problems. He concluded the presentation with an overview of the evidence supporting the use of various nutritional strategies to support gastrointestinal function. Of particular note Dr Davison identified low FODMAP diets, colostrum and/or zinc carnosine supplementation, glutamine supplementation and a recommendation to ‘train the gut’ in order to better cope during periods of high-intensity exercise.

Dr James Morton

The second afternoon presentation was a reflection on the sports nutrition strategies employed during the Team Sky 2016 Tour de France by Dr James Morton. James described the three main challenges that he faced as fuelling and recovery, adaptation to training and weight management. Of particular note, James described how he went about identifying the fuel and recovery requirements of his riders by combining a mixture of classic and modern sports nutrition biochemistry with individual rider testing data. He then went on to discuss how he implemented his strategies both in the build up to and during the tour itself. 

Working in industry – a profile of a career in industry, Terence O'Rorke

The final presentation came from Terence O’Rorke of Informed Sport and detailed his career to date in the sports nutrition industry. Terence gave a fascinating insight into the different skills required to be successful in industry and the diversity of challenges and interactions that he faces on a day-to-day basis.


The final session was a facilitated discussion on the importance of the MDT approach. The session was facilitated by Dr Kevin Currell and the panel included Emma Deakin, Lead Physiotherapist, British Triathlon; Lucy Wainwright,  Performance Nutritionist, British Triathlon; Malcolm Brown, Coach, British Trialthlon; and Vicky Holland, Team GB Bronze Medallist in Rio 2016.

Read additional information on speakers.