Drugs in Sport: December 2011 Update

Introduction

Two months ago an Australian Paralympic cyclist was banned from competition for two years following a positive drug test. The athlete was tested shortly after breaking a world record at the national cycling championships earlier this year.

In Australia, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) is responsible for promoting, co-ordinating and monitoring anti-doping. ASADA conducted 7,090 drug tests in 54 sports in 2010-2011. These tests led to 42 athletes being entered onto the independent Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel’s formal Register of Findings. 

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) co-ordinates global anti-doping through its World Anti Doping Code. It publishes an annual List of Prohibited Substances that have the potential to enhance performance or to mask the use of substances and methods that are prohibited. WADA’s 2012 List of Prohibited Substances was published three months ago.

Doping is characterised by:

  • Presence of a prohibited substance in an athlete’s drug test sample.
  • Use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or method.
  • Refusal to submit a drug test sample after being notified of a test.
  • Failure of an athlete to notify the anti-doping agency of whereabouts or missed tests.
  • Tampering with any part of the doping control process.
  • Possession of a prohibited substance or method.
  • Trafficking a prohibited substance or method.
  • Administering or attempting to administer a prohibited substance or method to an athlete.

WADA’s 2012 List

The 2012 List specifies nine groups of prohibited substances. Each substance is identified as having a potential to enhance performance in competitions or to mask the use of substances and methods that are prohibited.

These prohibited substances:

  • Increase protein synthesis, augment muscle mass and strength (anabolic agents)
  • Stimulate production of naturally occurring steroids, build up muscle, repair body tissue and improve the body’s ability to carry oxygen (peptide hormones, growth factors and related substances)
  • Relax airways (bronchodilators), enhance anabolic and anti-inflammatory actions (beta-2 antagonists)
  • Inhibit or stimulate specific cellular receptors (hormone antagonists and modulators)
  • Increase urination to flush, dilute or conceal prohibited substances (diuretics and other masking agents)
  • Increase reaction time, reduce pain (stimulants)
  • Provide pain relief and mood alteration (narcotics and cannabinoids)
  • Inhibit inflammation, pain relief, relax respiratory tract (glucocortisosteroids)

The 2012 List has an introductory sentence that emphasizes the status of drugs with no official approval and not covered by the nine generic substances in the List: “Any pharmacological substance which is not addressed by any of the subsequent sections of the List and with no current approval by any governmental regulatory health authority for human therapeutic use (for example, drugs under pre-clinical or clinical development or discontinued, designer drugs, veterinary medicines) is prohibited at all times.”

Three prohibited methods are included in the 2012 List. The enhancement of oxygen transfer increases oxygen delivery to tissues to improve aerobic power.  Chemical and physical manipulations consist of the use of substances and/or methods, which may alter the integrity, and/or validity of urine samples obtained in doping controls. These include, but are not limited to, catheterisation, urine substitution and/or tampering with doping control. Gene doping is considered (but not found at present) to target muscle hypertrophy, oxygen delivery, and changes in muscle phenotype.

Exemptions

There are cases where athletes “would experience a significant impairment to health if the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method were to be withheld in the course of treating an acute or chronic medical condition.” An International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions became effective in 2005. WADA permits the Therapeutic Use of the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method when such use would not enable “additional enhancement of performance other than that which might be anticipated by a return to a state of normal health following the treatment of a legitimate medical condition”. The exemption exists in cases where “there is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method”.

London Olympics 2012

The ‘Win Clean: Say No To Doping’ campaign for the London Olympics was launched in October.  The launch took place in a week when there was active discussion of a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision that the International Olympic Committee’s Rule 45 that bans athletes suspended for doping for six months or more from competing at the Olympics was “invalid and unenforceable”.

Photo Credit

Cheating

1948 Olympic Games Poster

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