Prohibited substances and methods
Some drugs, medications, substances and methods are banned in sport. Athletes competing in sports governed by a World Anti-Doping Code compliant anti-doping policy need to be aware that they can’t just take any drug or medication, or even use certain methods.
The World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited List
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) updates and publishes the Prohibited List each year.
This list is the International Standard that outlines:
- The substances and methods that are prohibited in- and out-of-competition.
- The sports in which the substances and methods are prohibited.
WADA runs a consultation period through its List Expert Group and Health, Medical and Research Committee before preparing and publishing the Prohibited List.
Several meeting are held each year to develop the Prohibited List. All stakeholder issues and comments are discussed in detail at these meeting.
The Prohibited List is approved by WADA’s Executive Committee in September of each year and published three months before it comes into effect on 1 January.
We promote the updated Prohibited List to Australian sports and athletes each year.
Read more on the WADA website:
How a substance or method becomes prohibited
For a substance or method to be prohibited, it must meet two of the following three conditions:
- It has the potential to enhance, or it does enhance performance in sport.
- It has the potential or represents an actual risk to the athlete’s health.
- It violates the spirit of sport (this definition is described in the introduction to the Code).
Although the Prohibited List explicitly names numerous substances that are banned in sport, it is important to understand that the Prohibited List is not exhaustive.
Every year there are hundreds, if not thousands, of new or modified substances or products developed and released onto the market or black market.
On the Prohibited List, several categories of substances are ‘open’. For example, some categories include unapproved substances that are undergoing pre-clinical or clinical development. Other categories include ‘substances with similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s)’ – this means that substances not explicitly named on the list are also prohibited on the basis they are similar to substances that are explicitly named.
There will be instances when we must consult with stakeholders (including WADA), and conduct examinations of products and methods before we decide on the status of a particular substance, method or product.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code’s ‘strict liability’ principle, the athlete is responsible for any substance found in their body, regardless of how it got there. The presence of a prohibited substance may result in an anti-doping rule violation, whether its use was intentional or unintentional. Our advice to athletes and support personnel is to be very careful when considering the use of a particular substance or product, as this may result in a sanction and/or other consequences for an athlete.
Check your substances on Global DRO
To use Global DRO:
- Go to the Global Dro website.
- Choose from the categories:
- User Type (athlete or medical professional)
- Nation of Purchase
NOTE: Correct selection of the ‘Sport’ and ‘Nation of Purchase’ are essential to ensure the correct results.
- Enter the name of the medication or ingredient
- Accept the Terms and Conditions.
- Get the results instantly. Many results may be listed. Ensure that the result you select matches exactly to the medication or ingredient.
- A reference number will be listed at the bottom of your results page. It is extremely important that this reference number is retained as proof of the search before using a medication or substance. This may help you if you are ever called upon to provide that information in the future. We recommend you save this number or print out or email a copy of your results to yourself.
- To check more than one substance, enter a medication or ingredient in the ‘new search’ box.
Advice about search results
It is very important that you select the item from the Global DRO search list that is an exact match to your search entry. Also make sure all active ingredients of the brand you are searching are listed on the brand search results (status) page.
If the list does not include an exact match to your search term, do not select another substance from the list as it may not be related in any way to your searched substance. That is, the list is a guide only in the event you have misspelt your search term. You should carefully check the spelling of your substance and find an exact match.
If the particular brand name is not in the database, try searching for the active ingredients found on the front of the medication packaging.
Advice about supplement searches
Global DRO does not provide the prohibited status of pre-workouts, fat burners, or dietary supplements in general. This includes natural health products, for example: homeopathic products, traditional medicines, herbals, and probiotics.
You should be aware that supplements can vary from batch to batch. They may also contain substances that are prohibited in sport even if it is not listed on the label. To protect yourself, take the time to read our supplement advice.
Drugs, medications and ingredients listed on Global DRO are only brand-name products sold in the following countries:
- New Zealand
- The United Kingdom
- The United States.
Be extremely careful when using an overseas product.
You may not find medications or substances listed on Global DRO if they are an overseas product from a country not listed here.
They may not find them if they are searching by a generic name or by the list of ingredients. Some medications from overseas have the same brand name as medications sold in Australia, but they may contain different ingredients. Although the name and logo may be identical to that in Australia, overseas products may contain substances that are prohibited in sport.
Advice about products with conditional status
Certain products may have a ‘conditional’ status on Global DRO. A conditional status indicates that the product may contain an ingredient that is prohibited in specific circumstances.
You must read the additional information provided after your search. This will explain the conditions under which an ingredient is prohibited and not prohibited.
For example, Ventolin CFC-free Inhaler has a conditional status. This is because salbutamol, which is Ventolin’s active ingredient, is allowed by inhalation below a certain threshold.
Advice about prohibited methods
The Prohibited List also lists prohibited methods which are banned at all times for either:
- their potential to enhance performance in future competitions
- their masking potential.
Prohibited methods are classified as follow:
- Manipulation of blood and blood components
- Chemical and physical manipulation
- Gene and cell doping
Advice about manipulation of blood and blood components
The following methods are banned:
- Administration of your own blood or someone else’s blood into your circulatory system.
- Administration of any red blood cell products of any origin including your own.
An example of the reintroduction of red blood cells is plasmapheresis. For the donor, donating plasma is prohibited because the donor’s own red blood cells (and other blood components) are reintroduced back into their own circulatory system after the plasma is separated outside the donor’s body.
Enhancing consumption, transport or delivery of oxygen by artificial means is also banned. For example, the use of certain chemicals or haemoglobin-based blood products to artificially increase your oxygen carrying capacity to working tissues throughout your body is considered prohibited.
Any form of intravenous manipulation of blood or blood components by physical or chemical means is banned. An example of this is laser blood irradiation therapies. These involve the intravenous or intravascular illumination of blood with a specific laser light. Laser light therapies are said to improve blood flow and the oxygen-transport activity of blood. It is therefore banned at all times.
Advice about chemical and physical manipulation
Tampering, or attempting to tamper, to alter the integrity and validity of samples collected during doping control is banned at all times.
Tampering examples may involve:
- substituting your urine sample with fake urine or someone else’s urine.
- the addition of adulterants to your own sample (for example, salts, soap, blood, vinegar, bleach, etc.).
The intravenous infusions and/or injections of more than a total of 100 mL per 12-hour period is also banned. This is unless the infusion was legitimately received in the course of hospital treatments, surgical procedures or clinical diagnostic investigations.
Advice about gene and cell doping
Advances in gene technologies in recent years have given rise to promising gene therapies in medicine for the treatment of genetic diseases and cancer. Some of these technologies can also be abused for doping purposes. Hence, the use of anything that would enhance performance by altering genome sequence and/or altering gene expression by any mechanism (for example the use of nucleic acids or analogues in gene editing, gene silencing and gene transfer), including the use of normal or genetically modified cells is prohibited.
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