The World Anti Doping Agency’s Prohibited List 2024

Written by Richard Wee and Fatin Ismail

WADA reports that the 2024 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (‘the List’) and the 2024 Monitoring Program have come into force on 1 January 2024. The List, which is mandatory for all signatories of the World Anti Doping Code encompasses and designates which substances are prohibited in and out of competition as well as listing the relevant substances which are banned in specific sports. 

The major modification for the List includes the prohibition of tramadol in competition. Tramadol, a narcotic, has been on WADA’s Monitoring Program whereby it has been discovered that there is a significant use of the same in sports. Tramadol abuse, with its risk of physical dependence, opiate use disorder and overdoses, is a worldwide concern leading to it being a controlled drug in many countries. There has also been extensive research which confirms the potential for tramadol to enhance sports performance. 

The Prohibited List review is a process which takes several months. An initial meeting is conducted in January 2023 with the actual list only being published by 1 October 2023. An extensive consultation process is carried out whereby it includes gathering information, including the latest scientific and medical research, trends, and intelligence gathered from law enforcement and pharmaceutical companies; circulating a draft List among stakeholders; and, taking their submissions into consideration to revise the draft, followed by review by the Agency’s Health, Medical and Research (HMR) Committee. This HMR Committee then makes recomendations to WADA’s ExCo which approves the list in the September 2023 meeting. 

The two of the three main criteria must be met for a substance or method to be added to the Prohibited List: 

  1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance  
  2. It represents an actual or potential health risk to athletes  
  3. It violates the spirit of sport 

As the full 2024 List was published on 28 September 2023, it gave over than three months’ notice to athletes, their entourage, and other stakeholders, enabling them to acquaint themselves with any modifications. Athletes are ultimately responsible for prohibited substances found in their bodies and prohibited methods found to have been used. 

The entourages of Athletes may also be liable for breaching any of these rules should they be found to be complicit. If there is any doubt as to the status of a substance or method, it is important that they contact their respective Anti-Doping Organizations (International Federation or National Anti-Doping Organization) for advice.

Published on 10 January 2024

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