skip navigation

How Does NSF Protect Athletes?

By Joel Totoro, RD Thorne Staff, U.S., 04/10/18, 9:45AM MDT


Key bits of information to consider regarding supplements

Navigating the Supplement World

When supplements are a solution to filling a nutritional gap, there are some key bits of information to consider. The quality control of nutritional supplements does vary considerably, and a consumer may not always get everything they think they are paying for.

Athletes who play at a level where drug testing is involved incur additional risks with nutritional supplementation – the potential of a positive drug test because of supplement contamination.

We believe non-drug tested athletes and casual competitors alike should also have access to supplements free of banned substances.

The Importance of Third-Party Testing 

Nutritional supplement brands can, and should, retain outside independent companies to audit their manufacturing processes and test their products to ensure compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices.

Third-party testing ensures that the company’s products contain the ingredients listed on the label in the amounts listed and don’t contain any harmful ingredients.

Our third-party testing partner, NSF International, has created an advanced certification program for supplements geared toward elite athletes.

NSF International’s Certified for Sport® program tests supplement products for more than 270 substances that have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

A supplement product that bears the NSF Certified for Sport® seal ensures that the product contains exactly what the label claims it does, in the amounts listed, and doesn’t contain any banned substances or other harmful ingredients.

Who Is NSF International?

Founded in 1955 – NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) is an independent and accredited organization that develops public health standards and certification programs to test and certify products and systems designed to protect the world’s food, water, consumer products, and the environment. Their mission is “to protect and improve global human health.”

What is NSF Certified for Sport®? 

In its own words, the program's objective is to certify that sports supplement manufacturers have met NSF's stringent independent certification process guidelines.

A key component of this program is an NSF mark on each product label to indicate to athletes, coaches, and consumers that a supplement has met the NSF's comprehensive Certified for Sport® program guidelines.

While some third-party programs only spot-test products, or conduct only annual tests, NSF Certified for Sport® testing means that every lot of a product that bears their certification is fully tested. Certified products are not allowed to be released by the manufacturer until testing is completed at NSF’s facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Look to the Professionals

NSF International’s Certified for Sport® program has official support and recognition from numerous professional sports organizations:

  • Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association (MLB/MLBPA)
  • The National Football League and the NFL Players Association (NFL/NFLPA)
  • The National Hockey League (NHL)
  • The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA)
  • The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)

NSF tests for more than 270 substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

What Does NSF Certified for Sport® Mean for Me?

Each batch of a Thorne product is tested for label claims, enabling athletes and other end consumers to know that what is on the product label is exactly what is in the bottle – and nothing else.

  • NSF’s label-claim testing program is the ONLY American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-Accredited Dietary Supplements Product Certification program in existence.
  • Every product in the NSF testing program is subjected to a formulation, label, and marketing review before certification.
  • Each review includes raw materials supplier verification.

You Can Trust Where Products Come From

  • To participate in the NSF Certified for Sport® program, each facility where a supplement product is manufactured must also participate in NSF’s GMP auditing program.
  • NSF conducts these facility-wide GMP audits twice annually to make certain that the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices are being followed.
  • NSF tests products in the real world – formulation reviews are performed three times a year for ongoing monitoring of samples secured from distribution centers, retail stores, and Internet sites to ensure random selection.

NSF Has a “NO” List

  • NSF limits caffeine to 150 mg per serving and 300 mg daily.
  • NSF will not certify products that make “anabolic,” “testosterone booster,” and “thermogenic fat burner” claims.
  • NSF has a dedicated team for NSF trademark enforcement to ensure companies do not misuse the NSF trademark or authorized NSF text on the product labels or falsely claim that a product has been tested when it was not.
  • NSF will not certify sexual enhancement or weight loss products.

Is Thorne NSF Certified?

In addition to being an NSF GMP-Certified facility, Thorne Research has the most extensive line of NSF Certified for Sport® products. Thorne's mission is to provide quality supplements that every athlete at every level can trust, as well as truthful information about how nutritional supplements fit into an athlete’s lifestyle.

The best nutritional supplement program needs to be personalized to the athlete – one size fits one. A Thorne Research nutritional supplement product that bears the NSF Certified for Sport® trademark ensures that the product contains exactly what the product label claims it does, in the amounts listed – and no harmful or banned ingredients.

To learn more about Thorne Nutritional products and our partnership please click here

Nutrition News

Most Popular Articles


By USA Hockey 04/10/2018, 3:15pm MDT

Leave a stick outside your front door this weekend in support of the Humboldt Broncos

Host Sites Set for 2018 USA Hockey National Championships

By USA Hockey 01/10/2017, 10:30am MST

Tournaments scheduled for March and April in cities nationwide

Mythbusters (Part 2)

By USA Hockey 03/20/2018, 5:00pm MDT

Breaking down 5 common officiating misconceptions

Let’s be honest: Officiating is far from easy. The fact that special skills (skating) are required to simply do our job, especially as the speed of hockey changes, it can make it downright hard.


Toss in the criticisms and “myths” that influence the world of hockey officiating and one can see how the environment can be difficult for the next wave of officials.


We tackled a few different officiating myths a few years back. In this second installment, we’ll take a look at some of the other more common misconceptions about officiating and the game.


Myth 1: “The best officials ‘manage’ the game and recognize some rules don’t need to be enforced.”

This is actually a repeat from the first edition, but it bears repeating. Considering an official’s primary role is to enforce the rules of the game to the best of their ability, this is one myth that becomes fairly easy to bust.


Nowhere in the rulebook, or any other education materials, does it suggest that a particular rule should not be enforced – ever. Yet, some officials feel it is their job to pick and choose what infractions they want to call or they simply ignore certain rules all together.


The problem is it’s impossible to pick and choose which rules to enforce on a consistent basis. Player safety is a MUST and is a critical part of the official’s job. Every official needs to set a tight standard as it relates to dangerous actions.  However, in some cases we have officials who do a good job enforcing dangerous fouls but are lax when it comes to other infractions where injury potential is not as great.


In addition, what these officials are missing is the missed hook, hold or interference may have an even greater impact on the outcome of the game, as it often involves a scoring opportunity.  After all, the object of the game is to score more goals then your opponent. The reality is an illegal act that takes away a scoring opportunity is no less important to the outcome of the game than an aggressive foul.


Myth 2: “Faceoffs don’t really matter as long as they are fair and even.”

Obviously, having a “fair” faceoff is important, and most people would agree that a faceoff is fair if both players cheating are even (i.e., as long as both forwards are encroaching the same distance, it is even and not a big deal, or both centers are turned slightly and don’t have their sticks in contact with the white portion of the faceoff spot – but they are even, so get the puck down).


However, the rules are there for a reason and, quite simply, are designed to improve the possibility that every faceoff is a fair faceoff.


Hockey takes a tremendous amount of skill, but there is one skill that every single player can do equally well and that is to stand behind a line; that is all that we are asking them to do during a faceoff. So why would we not expect them to do it for every single faceoff and instead settle for less? 


If you really want fair faceoffs, establish the expectation from the opening faceoff of every game. Clearly communicate expectations and then hold the players accountable for meeting them. It won’t take players long to adjust, and if you do this at the start of the season and stick with it, no bad habits are formed and after the first few games faceoffs are not a problem.


Myth 3: “As long as the faceoff is fair, the location does not matter.”

Sticking with the faceoff theme, establishing the proper faceoff location is important in every instance, especially now that USA Hockey has gone with the nine-spot faceoff locations. The territorial difference between an end-zone faceoff and a neutral-zone faceoff is significant and can result in an immediate scoring opportunity. The official’s job when play stops is to have an awareness of where play stopped and then understand the rules to determine the proper location. Getting it right does matter to the integrity of the game and the best officials take pride in this area and earn respect as a result.


Myth 4: “The use of electronic scoresheets means officials are not responsible for making sure they are accurate.”

More and more leagues and rinks are using electronic scoring instead of the old hard-copy four-part scoresheet. In addition, more and more instances are occurring where penalties (mainly those involving potential suspensions) are recorded improperly and it creates confusion as to what was actually assessed and what, if any, discipline is required. This creates considerably more work for volunteer team managers and affiliate disciplinary personnel who now have to track the correct information down. To make matters worse, in many cases, the officials are not entered into the electronic scoring either.


The fact is, the use of electronic scoring is still an official document, and the referee has an obligation to ensure its accuracy at the end of every game. Part of that responsibility is to make sure the officials’ names are entered properly. Sure, it may take an extra minute or two to check versus the old hard-copy, but laziness is not a valid excuse for not completing your work. 


Myth 5: “There is no avenue to hold officials accountable for misbehavior, so they are allowed to do anything they want.”

We all know that this is not true, but based on some of the stories submitted from the field, sometimes one has to wonder. There are situations where officials do act unprofessionally or inappropriately and there has to be accountability in those instances. Local officials groups or affiliates do have the authority and the responsibility to sanction officials who fall into these categories. We are not talking about missing a call or simply making a mistake. We are talking about situations where the integrity of the game is clearly compromised, such as the use of inappropriate language or using excessive force on a player. 


Officials have to be above reproach to effectively do their jobs, and when one fails in this area, action needs to be taken by the proper authority. Turning a blind eye and not addressing it only feeds the misconception and makes all of our jobs more difficult.


So, there you have it. The takeaways from this go-around are pretty clear.

  1. Enforce all of the rules of the game at all times with confidence and you will earn instant respect.
  2. Communicate established expectations and then hold players accountable and you will have fair faceoffs.
  3. Determining the proper faceoff location does matter.
  4. Electronic scoresheets do not absolve the officials from their responsibility to ensure accuracy.
  5. Officials who behave improperly must be held accountable for their actions by the proper authority for the betterment of the game.