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Emergency Medicines: what you need to know

The nature of competitive sport means that athletes are often used to receiving medical attention. This can include emergency surgeries or trips to A&E. It’s of vital importance that you, as an athlete, are aware of your responsibilities when it comes to emergency medication and treatment, and what action you should take.

As an athlete you may, in the course of emergency treatment (e.g. surgery or an A&E admission), be provided with drugs or be treated in a way which is prohibited in sport, as per the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (the List).

What’s important to note is that emergency treatment should never be withheld due to anti-doping considerations. Your health as an athlete should be the first and foremost priority. You can, therefore, apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) after you are provided with drugs or methods (retroactive TUE) as part of the emergency treatment, which are prohibited in sport.

Check whether you are competing at a level within your sport which UKAD requires you to submit a TUE in advance of a drug test here.

Here’s our top tips should you receive emergency treatment:

  1. Ensure that you obtain a copy of your drugs chart and all treatment records prior to being discharged (there will often be delays if you request these afterwards)
  2. Check all drugs provided to you by using Global DRO
  3. If a TUE is required, submit a TUE application form and copies of all medical records from the procedure as soon as practical
  4. If you are subject to a doping control test whilst still applying for a TUE, ensure that you record the drugs on the doping control form and notify UKAD via tue@ukad.org.uk
  5. Make those close to you (your next of kin or whoever will be informed should you be admitted to hospital) are aware of your responsibility to obtain copies of your drugs chart and all treatment records should you receive emergency treatment

Here is some advice on when a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) is necessary.

Treatments prohibited in-competition only

A retroactive TUE will only be required if you are next due to compete within the following timeframes:

•  EpiPen (used for treating allergic reactions)
        Adrenaline; three days after last use

•  Intravenous or Oral Narcotics (used for pain management)
        e.g. Fentanyl, Morphine; seven days after the last dose

•  Intravenous or Oral Glucocorticoids (used to treat allergic reactions)
       e.g. Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone; 14 days after the last dose

Treatments prohibited at all times

A retroactive TUE should be submitted as soon as practical after the procedure, regardless of the next competition date, for the following:

Blood Transfusions 
Intravenous Diuretics & Masking Agents
Nebulised Salbutamol

Intravenous infusions in hospital

• IV infusions or injections of more than 100 ml in a 12-hour period are a prohibited method, except when received as part of a hospital treatment

• Always check the status of the ingredients of any IV infusion or injection, regardless of the volume

• IV infusions or injections of more than 100 ml in a 12-hour period provided in medical facilities at sports venues are prohibited and will require a retroactive TUE

Download the PDF here.

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