World Anti Doping Agency Officially adds tramadol to banned list
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The opioid has long been used in competition across various sports to dull pain, until now, WADA has resisted calls to implement a ban. That now changes with the publication of the 2024 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, with the substance outlawed from next January.
After years on WADA’s watchlist, Tramadol was officially added to the banned list with the agency highlighting cycling, rugby, and soccer as the sports where it has been most used.
“The delay in implementation was to provide an additional year for broad communication and education of athletes, their entourage, and medical personnel so that there was a better understanding of the practical implementation of tramadol prohibition in competition,” WADA said when it unveiled its banned list earlier in the fall.
“It also has given time to the scientific community to adjust the exact procedural details so that fairness can be ensured for athletes. In addition, it has given 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.”
Last year, former Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana tested for tramadol in the 2022 Tour de France. Because it was not yet on the WADA banned list, he did receive a sanction, but it was disallowed during competition by the UCI, which later stripped of his results at the race.
He has protested his innocence and will be racing for Movistar in 2024.
The UCI introducted a ban from March 1 2019, citing a WADA study showing that 4.4 percent of in-competition tests on cyclists showed the use of tramadol.
The UCI said that a first positive test would lead to disqualification from the event and a fine of between 1,000 and 5,000 Swiss francs.
A second offense would lead to disqualification from the event in question plus a five-month suspension, with a nine-month suspension to follow if the same athlete tested positive a third time.
Those penalties are set to be considerably strengthened with WADA now on board.