Athlete warning: IV infusions

  • Integrity Blog

Sport Integrity Australia is aware of a number of wellness clinics offering IV infusions for wellbeing, lifestyle or hangover recovery purposes.

iv drip bag

Athletes are warned that any IV infusion over 100ml of ANY substance can result in a doping violation and a ban from sport.

There are exceptions for legitimate medical treatments or emergencies, but in general – vitamin infusions to improve your skin, or saline infusions to help you recover from a hangover are definitely not OK.

Read on to make sure you know the rules.

IV drips – what an athlete needs to know

IV infusions for recuperation, recovery and lifestyle purposes are being advertised to athletes. However, the use of intravenous fluids in a sporting environment must comply with the World Anti-Doping Code.

According to the Prohibited List, all IV infusions and/or injections of more than 100ml per 12-hour period are prohibited at all times except for those legitimately received in a received in hospital, such as during surgery, or for a medical investigation.

This means that athletes can be sanctioned for receiving an IV, even if it is for a non-prohibited substance such as, for example, Vitamin B.

We asked our Chief Science Officer Dr Naomi Speers about what this means for athletes.

Can athletes utilise vitamin IV drips?

The short answer is athletes should avoid vitamin IV drips unless it is a recognised treatment of an established medical condition.

Anything taken intravenously, has to be looked at very closely. As IVs can be used to change blood test results, mask urine test results or can allow prohibited substances to clear from the body quicker.

So, to protect clean sport and athlete health and safety, there is a strict IV rule in place in the sporting world.

All IV infusions or injections of more than 100ml per 12-hour period of any substance, are prohibited at all times, both in and out of competition. That is, except for those legitimately received in the hospital, during surgery, or during clinical investigations.

Where a doctor prescribes a treatment that is administered by IV infusion, an athlete can apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the infusion, even if the substance is not banned. 

TUEs are only provided for recognised treatments for established medical condition. Reasons such as enhancing recovery and reducing fatigue would not meet these requirements.

Are there IV’s that athletes are able to receive?

Infusions or injections are permitted if the infused/injected substance is not on the Prohibited List, and the volume of fluid administered doesn’t exceed 100ml per 12-hour period.

However, if it is a prohibited substance that is administered intravenously or via injection, a Therapeutic Use Exemption is required regardless of the amount.

Athletes who have an infusion or injection of any volume should keep a record of the contents and volume.

What advice would you give athletes about IV drips?

It’s important that athletes stay informed about what they can and can’t put into their bodies, including methods such as intravenous infusions.

When it comes to options such as vitamin IV drips, for example, wellness clinics offering such services aren’t always aware that their treatments are prohibited in sport.

Athletes need to ensure that any treatments they participate in are checked with their regular sports health care professional in relation to anti-doping rules and make sure to check Global DRO and the Sport Integrity app before using any medication or treatment.

For more information about IV drips from an anti-doping point of view, refer to:

What if an athlete has an IV to treat a legitimate medical condition?

Athletes may at times need to use a prohibited medication and/or method to treat a legitimate medication condition.

A Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) is an exemption that allows an athlete to use, for therapeutic purposes only, an otherwise prohibited substance or method of administering a substance (such as intravenous). The athlete would need to apply for this exemption.

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