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Tramadol added to WADA banned list, cannabis ban remains in place

Powerful painkiller will be added to WADA's prohibited list in 2024, while cannabis can still trigger a sanction.

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Tramadol, the opiate painkiller already banned in competition in cycling, is now on the WADA list of banned substances across all sports starting in 2024.

The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed it will prohibit its use following the recommendations of the group’s advisory board, officials confirmed Friday.

WADA also said the use of tramadol can enhance performance.

“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 stated.

“Research studies funded by WADA have also confirmed the potential for tramadol to enhance physical performance.”

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Tramadol use increased in the peloton during the past decade and the UCI took steps to restrict its use during competition as WADA was slower to move on the product.

Tramadol was back in the headlines this summer after Colombian star Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) saw his results from July’s Tour de France erased after UCI say he used tramadol during the 2022 edition.

Also read: Quintana returns to worlds after tramadol denial

Because it’s not yet on the WADA list, Quintana is not facing a ban or other disciplinary action, but he did see his results and associated UCI points erased, highlighted sixth overall and second on the stage to Col du Granon.

Quintana, who returns to racing Sunday in the elite men’s road race at the Wollongong worlds, denied using tramadol and is challenging the case in an appeal to CAS.

Ban on cannabis remains in place

WADA also decided to maintain its ban on cannabis, citing the drug “violated the spirit of sport.”

The detection of cannabis in an athlete’s system can still trigger a ban, but that was recently reduced from two years to between one and three months.

“WADA is aware of the diversity of opinions and perceptions related to this substance around the world, and even within certain countries,” director general Olivier Niggli said.

“WADA plans to continue research in this area in relation with (its) 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.”