American track legend Edwin Moses feels athletes should stay away from all dietary supplements to escape possible doping bans in the future instead of claiming ignorance on testing positive for banned substances.

“I think athletes are making a mistake if they are trying to be aware of what is in every single substance. It is easier just to say ‘no’. You just have to say ‘no’ instead of taking the ‘I didn’t know’ approach. You cannot have it both ways,” Moses told World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s official publication Play True.

This was in reply to a query whether the sheer number of supplements available today makes it more difficult for an athlete (to stay drug free).

In the Indian context, his advice has come a bit late as six athletes, including double Asiad gold medallist Ashwini Akkunji, tested positive in June 2011 and served out a two-year ban. Ashwini and five others — Sini Jose, Mandeep Kaur, Priyanka Panwar, Juana Murmu and Tiana Mary Thomas — tested positive for banned substances. They claimed the substances were in the food supplement given to them by their coach.

According to Moses, in this digital age, athletes should take responsibility for conforming to the Anti-Doping Code. “A great part of the problem is the athletes themselves.

“If you are in a sport like track & field and you’re out there earning significant money and have people working with you such as physical therapists, masseurs and coaches, and you have access to electronic devices which can easily download all the information instantly, then the case of pleading ignorance should not be as acceptable as it was during the pre-digital era when we had to circulate a piece of paper around the world.

“Athletes have to begin to take more responsibility because strict liability is a fundamental principle of the Code. When I was an athlete I knew what things not to take, what things to be aware of, and there was nowhere near the level of supplements that there are today,” he said.

More In: Other Sports | Sport