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Meet Oliver Catlin of Banned Substances Control Group

Today we’d like to introduce you to Oliver Catlin.

For more than three decades, the Catlin standard of excellence in analytical testing has been a driving force within international sport drug testing. Often described as a father of drug testing in sports, Dr. Don Catlin founded the first anti-doping lab in the United States in 1982 and established testing methods and approaches that remain the Olympic benchmarks today. The Catlin team has provided testing services to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), MLB, NFL, NCAA, the U.S. military, the FIFA World Cup, and several Olympic Games.

Drawing the line between drugs and dietary supplements became increasingly complex in the 1990s as substances like Ephedrine, Androstenedione and other new designer drugs became popular ingredients in dietary supplement products. Sport authorities and regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) struggled with positive drug tests and growing health concerns.

Dr. Catlin and his team were at the forefront of the efforts to ensure supplement safety for athletes and consumers. In a seminal article published in 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), they were the first to highlight the concern that legal supplements could be contaminated with illegal drugs. Catlin’s group was also first to identify and expose infamous new designer drugs including 6-OXO, Madol, Methasterone, Methylhexaneamine, and Tren that were masquerading as ‘legal’ supplements, and worked alongside the FDA, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and media to combat these problematic substances.

Unfortunately, the regulations outlined in the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994; and the FDA’s 21 C.F.R. 111 – Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for Dietary Supplements have not been adequately designed or enforced to prevent dangerous drugs from adulterating dietary supplements.

In 2004, Dr. Catlin and his son Oliver sought to remedy supplement quality control and safety concerns by introducing BSCG (Banned Substances Control Group), helping to found the industry of third-party supplement testing and certification. BSCG’s rigorous, independent testing of supplement products and ingredients has enabled manufacturers to establish their brands and products as safe, reputable, and drug free, and provided athletes and consumers with trusted supplement options.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Historically, the dietary supplement industry has built a reputation of having relatively lax quality control in general. This has improved over the recent years with the onset of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for dietary supplements and the additional quality infused by applying those practices. However, many people mistakenly believe that complying with GMP guarantees the quality of dietary supplement products, we would say it encourages better quality but does not guarantee it.

That is why we offer dietary supplement certification services that certify that products meet higher standards than those outlined in the GMP. We have customized programs for banned substance protection, label verification and quality control, and GMP compliance. Getting the industry and consumers to understand the limitations of GMP and appreciate the additional value our certifications provide is a continuous challenge, but one that we relish. After all, education is a big part of what we do and sharing the knowledge outlining the protection our services provide to athletes and consumers is something we very much enjoy doing.

Please tell us about Banned Substances Control Group.
We are a global leader in third-party dietary supplement certification and testing services. We offer three different programs focused on protection against banned substances and other drug contaminants (Certified Drug Free), label verification and quality control testing for environmental contaminants (Certified Quality), and GMP facility audits and compliance (Certified GMP).

We work with finished product brands, ingredient providers, and manufacturing facilities to bring our gold standard certification programs to the dietary supplement, natural product, and broader nutrition industry and end consumers and athletes that drive those industries.

We have long been known for our excellence in analytical testing for banned substances in sport. Our Certified Drug Free program has been built on that tradition of excellence and offers the most robust protection in the dietary supplement certification industry against WADA Prohibited Substances and other banned substances in sport. Our testing menu leads the industry with coverage for 272 drugs banned in sport and an additional 211 prescription, OTC and illicit drugs that none of our competitors cover.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We take pride in our independence and quality science and we spend a lot of time looking internally working to improve our programs and services, which is good. However, it is outreach that really connects our services and certification programs with the outside world and the athletes, consumers, sporting leagues, anti-doping agencies, nutritionists, dietitians, and others who benefit from what we provide. I would have liked to spend more time on that initially but am proud of the programs we have built and look forward to sharing them as broadly as possible in the future.


  • Initial Cost – $1,250/product
  • Batch Testing Cost – $721/batch
  • Annual Registration Cost – $1,000/company

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Oliver Catlin

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