Checking Medications and Substances

Checking Your Medication

Many medications available for common medical conditions, such as asthma or hayfever, may contain prohibited substances.  You need to be aware that these are readily available in products prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter in a pharmacy.

The advice from UK Anti-Doping is simple - check every single substance or medication before you use it, even if you have used it before. It is also important to remember that medications bought abroad may contain different substances than those in the UK and you should always check before you take them.

Global Drug Reference Online

Global DRO provides athletes and support personnel with information about the prohibited status of specific substances under the rules of sport based on the current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List, for products sold in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, United States and Australia. The system has the ability to check the status of branded medications and individual active ingredients as well as providing every search with a unique reference number for your records.

Global Drug Reference Online

A new mobile-enhanced version of Global DRO is now available enabling athletes to check their medicines while on the move.If you can’t find what you are looking for then you can send an enquiry to UK Anti-Doping directly from the Global DRO website.

Drug Information Email: athlete@ukad.org.uk 

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs)

The Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process is a means by which an athlete can obtain approval to use a prescribed prohibited substance or method for the treatment of a legitimate medical condition.

The TUE Process
1. Athletes should advise all medical personnel of their obligation to abide by the anti-doping rules of their sport and that any medical treatment received must not violate these rules.
2. When prescribed a substance or method, athletes should check if that medication is prohibited by checking the Global Drug Reference Online system.
3. If the medication is not prohibited, athletes can start using the prescribed medication or treatment.
4. If the medication is prohibited, athletes should check with their prescribing physician or the sport’s medical personnel if there are any alternative medications or treatments that are permitted.
5. If there are no permitted alternatives, athletes should contact their National Governing Body (NGB) or email us to find out what type of exemption is required and if a TUE should be applied for prior to use or after doping control.
6. Only in emergency situations (e.g. allergic reaction, exacerbation of asthma, onset of bell's palsy) should treatment begin without the necessary approval.

When to Apply for a TUE

The requirements vary depending on the level of the athlete. Athletes competing at a National-level should apply to UKAD. International athletes (as defined by their International Federation) should apply to their IF. For advice on determining whether, and when, a TUE is required send us an email.

An athlete not required to apply for a TUE prior to competition can make a retroactive TUE application to UK Anti-Doping. Any athlete requiring a retroactive TUE has five days post the receipt of an adverse analytical finding (AAF) to submit a retroactive application. Typically an athlete will receive a letter by courier to confirm an AAF and inform them of the requirements to apply for a retroactive TUE for the prohibited substance detected in their sample. The NGB or UKAD may also contact the athlete to make them aware that this correspondence is on its way, in relevant circumstances.

We encourage any athlete who has been tested, without a TUE in place who may require one, to contact UKAD to discuss the process to better understand their rights and responsibilities. Even if an athlete is eligible to apply for a retrospective TUE, checks should be made with the prescribing physician that the criteria and medical evidence needed by the Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee (TUEC) can be met before the athlete uses any prohibited substance or method.

Travelling Abroad and Checking Medications

Athletes planning to travel abroad should ensure they adhere to the following advice:

  • Take enough medication to continue any treatment for the duration of the trip
  • Check the status of all products before you travel
  • Check the medication is permitted in the country of travel and whether it is permitted to bring through customs
  • Download the Clean Sport App
  • Any products purchased overseas should be carefully checked. The ingredients in common medications can and do contain different substances to those available in the UK.

Some countries have different customs laws that may prohibit the import of certain substances into a particular country. Athletes carrying a prohibited substance for a legitimate medical condition, should carry the following documents at all times:

  • The prescription from the prescribing doctor including the name of the substance, the dose and the frequency of use
  • The Therapeutic Use Exemption Certificate to demonstrate that an authorised anti-doping organisation has permitted the use of a prohibited substance for medical purposes.

Information on Supplements

UK athletes are advised to be vigilant in their choice to use any supplement. No guarantee can be given that any particular supplement is free from prohibited substances. Informed Sport tests batches of supplements to check for contamination as part of a risk minimisation programme. Find out more about supplements 

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