WARNING: Smoothie could end careers
IT'S an Incan root, a super-food renowned for its ability to boost libido, increase stamina and manage hormones.
It's also been flagged as a potential career-ender for elite athletes and it may be in the smoothie you're about to sip on.
Maca powder and Maca root products have been identified as ones to be avoided by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and has been rated a Category D substance by the Australian Institute of Sport, not to be used by athletes.
The ingredient is used in three products on the Raw Energy menu, featuring in the Raw NRG smoothie and two other 'super-food' products on the health-food chain's menu.
Raw Energy operates seven outlets on the Sunshine Coast, including at the University of the Sunshine Coast which opened in February, with one outlet on campus and another at the sporting precinct.
Raw Energy operations manager Jay Giles was surprised at the status of Maca powder, but said he'd be happy to take measures to help athletes avoid any issues.
"Putting warning signs on those products for athletes is something we'd definitely look at," he said.
"We'd be happy to work with (athletes on warnings and product advice)."
Raw Energy operates 14 stores nationwide, with outlets also in Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Wollongong and opening its 15th store in Fremantle in the next few months.
"Maca root is not currently a prohibited substance in itself, however there is a high risk of contamination of this substance," an ASADA spokeswoman said.
"The AIS lists Maca root as a Category D substance, which should not be used by athletes. As a result, ASADA advises that athletes subject to testing should be extremely cautious of any products which contain Maca Root."
The Daily understands some athletes have returned positive test results previously as a result of using Maca powder products.
High-profile triathlete Kirra Seidel was banned by the International Triathlon Union for elevated testosterone levels in 2013. She claimed the only supplements she'd used were Maca powder and Chlorophyll.
The AIS website says Maca root powder's evidence level is banned, or at high risk of contamination with substances that could lead to a positive drug test, in its advice to athletes to avoid the product.
The Daily understands ASADA's concerns centre around whether Maca root products are masks for other substances or contain other chemicals that are banned.
Mr Giles said the product was sourced along with others in the range for its health benefits, including increased stamina, which he assumed placed it on the watchlist of sporting bodies, something he'd been surprised by.
"It's not a product I'd like to take off the menu because of the benefits," Mr Giles said, pointing out that for the majority of the population it would not be an issue.
"95% of the general public aren't being tested by ASADA."