1 September 2021
The Prohibited List is a document that lists all substances and methods prohibited in sport. It is produced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and is updated at least annually. The new List is published in October of each year and comes into force on January 1st of the following year.
It is very important that athletes and their support personnel check the List regularly – at least when it is updated and before the athlete takes any new medication.
There are specific criteria for a substance to appear on the Prohibited List. Take a look at this short video from the ITA Sports Pharmacist Mark Stuart to find out more:
The Prohibited List is divided into three categories:
1) Substances and methods that are prohibited at all times, both in-competition and out of competition
2) Substances and methods that are prohibited only during the in-competition period
3) Substances and methods that are prohibited only in certain sports
It is important to know and understand the definition of the in-competition period for your sport – this can be found in the Anti-Doping Rules of your International Federation (IF). Most IFs use the following definition: “The in-competition period is the period commencing at 11:59 p.m. on the day before a Competition in which the Athlete is scheduled to participate through to the end of such Competition and the Sample collection process related to such Competition”.
One key point to remember about medications prohibited in-competition is that the athlete should stop using them well in advance of the event in order for the substance to leave their system.
Navigating the Prohibited List can be overwhelming for both the athletes and their support personnel. Below we outline some of the key points you should remember when checking medications.
Both medications that require a prescription and those that can be bought over the counter can appear on the Prohibited List – make sure you check everything that you take!
Athletes should remind their doctors that they are an athlete and are subject to anti-doping regulations, especially when receiving a treatment or a consultation outside the context of sport. Even a dentist may prescribe a prohibited medication!
Remember that different substances take different amounts of time to leave your system – take that into account when taking substances prohibited in-competition.
Some medications are prohibited in certain doses and by certain routes of administration. For example, an asthma pump may be allowed, but in limited dosage and for a fixed time period. The route of administration refers to how a medication is taken e.g. as a tablet, a cream, an injection etc. If the medication you are taking is subject to any of these limitations, carefully monitor your intake.
Some brand names offer multiple variations of the same product and some pharmacies offer different brands of the same type of medication. There is a real risk that one will contain a prohibited substance while another may not. Make sure you take exactly what was recommended and check the product again if you are changing brands or planning to take a different variation of a medication.
What is allowed in one country may be prohibited in another, and medications of the same brand may have different ingredients in another country. If you need to purchase a medication in a foreign country, make sure you check it again – even if it looks similar to the product that you take at home.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when trying to determine the status of a medication. But the good news is that there are some many good resources out there to help you do this.
First and foremost, we always recommend consulting a professional who is familiar with the Prohibited List and the Anti-Doping Rules first. This can be a team doctor or someone from your National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO). NADOs are a great resource especially because they are familiar with the medications available in your home country.
There is also a number of online resources and databases that are free and easily accessible. Many NADOs have such resources for country-specific medications. Another great international online database is GlobalDRO. This website is easy to use and is recommended by many anti-doping organisations, including the International Testing Agency.
A medication or a method can be checked by simply selecting your sport, user type (e.g. athlete) and the country of purchase from a drop-down menu. You can then type in the medication name or the active medical ingredient listed on the label, and the website will quickly return comprehensive search results. GlobalDRO provides a high level of detail, including information on whether the substance is permitted in or out of competition, by what route of administration and in what dosage. It also lists other names of the medication, along with its WADA classification (e.g. anabolic agents, stimulants, diuretics etc).
Watch this video to see how GlobalDRO works:
We hope that you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITA Education Team at [email protected].
Thank you for #keepingsportreal!
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