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Prohibited non-hormonal performance-enhancing drugs in sport

David Baron, MSEd, DO, DFAPA
Diana Robinson, MBBS FACSEP
Section Editor
Peter Fricker, MBBS, FACSP
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Athletes continue to use a wide range of substances and methods to improve their performance. Banned substances and methods are included in the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA prohibited list. This list is updated every January and is freely available on the WADA website.

Prohibited non-hormonal performance enhancing drugs and some other prohibited methods for performance enhancement are reviewed here. Hormonal performance-enhancing drugs and other illicit methods of performance enhancement are reviewed separately. (See "Use of androgens and other hormones by athletes".)


Non-hormonal drugs used illicitly to improve sports performance are included in a comprehensive list maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This list is updated every January and is freely available on the WADA website. Thus, it is important when reading this topic or any source of information about these substances to ensure that it correlates with the latest version of the WADA prohibited substance list.

In the past decade, the WADA list of banned performance-enhancing substances has grown to over 192 drugs and methods. In addition to androgens and other hormones, the WADA prohibited list includes stimulants, recreational drugs such as narcotics and cannabinoids, beta agonists, diuretics, and other prescription medications. In 2011, section S0 was added to the WADA list to include substances that have yet to be approved for human use, are still in clinical development, or have been discontinued (S0). Two additional sources for useful information about supplements are the Australian Institute of Sport website and the Informed Sport website.

In addition to WADA, other organizations (eg, National Collegiate Athletic Association in the United States) and governing bodies for particular sports may ban substances not included on the WADA list. Thus, it is important for clinicians involved in the care or management of athletes to keep current with the restrictions and guidelines maintained by all such organizations relevant to their athletes.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 07, 2017.
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