WADA bans tramadol use from 2024, cannabis ban to remain in place for athletes

Sep 23, 2022

Sydney [Australia], September 23 : The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Friday announced that they have added the painkiller tramadol to the list of banned substances for athletes in events from 2024 and has maintained its prohibition on cannabis after the Executive Committee (ExCo) held its second meeting of the year in Sydney, Australia.
"Tramadol abuse, with its dose-dependent risks of physical dependence, opiate addiction and overdoses in the general population, is of concern and has led to it being a controlled drug in many countries," WADA said in a news release.
"Research studies funded by WADA have also confirmed the potential for tramadol to enhance physical performance," it further read.
After the meeting, WADA President Witold Banka, said: "I was very pleased today with the high level of discussion and collaboration among members of the Executive Committee. After full consideration of the relevant experts' recommendations, a number of important decisions were made, including approval of the 2023 Prohibited List, which will come into effect on 1 January 2023."
"I would like to thank our colleagues from the Government of Australia for graciously hosting the meeting in Sydney and to all those who participated in the meeting for their ongoing commitment to clean sport, including Australia's Sports Minister, Anika Wells," he said.
After appeals from some "stakeholders", however, WADA decided to review the cannabis ban but settled on Friday to hold it because the use of the drug "violated the spirit of sport".
The ExCo approved the 2023 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (List). Updated annually, the List designates the substances and methods that are prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code). There will be limited modifications to the List, which will be published before 1 October 2022 and come into effect on January 1, 2023.
"Of particular note, the ExCo endorsed the recommendation by the List Expert Advisory Group (LiEAG) to prohibit the narcotic tramadol in competition, effective 1 January 2024. The delay in implementation is to provide an additional year for broad communication and education of athletes, their entourage and medical personnel so that there is a better understanding of the practical implementation of tramadol prohibition in competition. It will also give time to the scientific community to adjust the exact procedural details so that fairness can be ensured for athletes. In addition, it gives sports authorities time to develop educational tools for athletes, and for medical and support personnel to address the safe use of tramadol for clinical purposes within anti-doping," WADA further added in a news release.
Tramadol has been on the WADA Monitoring Program and data gathered through that program have indicated significant use in sports.
WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: "The question of how THC should be dealt with in a sporting context is not straightforward. WADA is aware of the diversity of opinions and perceptions related to this substance around the world, and even within certain countries. WADA is also mindful that the few requests for THC's removal from the Prohibited List are not supported by the experts' thorough review. We are also conscious that the laws of many countries - as well as broad international regulatory laws and policies - support maintaining cannabis on the List at this time."
"WADA plans to continue research in this area in relation to THC's potential performance-enhancing effects, its impact on the health of athletes and also in relation to perceptions of cannabis from athletes, experts and others around the world," Niggli said.

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