Being diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes shouldn’t prevent anyone from taking part in sport or physical activity.
In fact, being active can help improve your management of diabetes, help the body to use insulin more efficiently, and increase the amount of glucose used by the body for energy, according to Diabetes UK. However, it is always best to consult a medical professional as the type and intensity of exercise can affect people differently.
If you are competing, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure you won’t fail a drugs test and be banned from sport – something five-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Steve Redgrave says is vital to keeping sport clean.
“As a long-term athlete that came down with diabetes in the last three years of my international rowing career, I know the importance of medical checks. Even though it was a long time ago, the issue of clean sport then was as important as it is today.
“As an athlete, you need to make sure you get all your meds checked. Rowing in the UK has an excellent structure for this. I was guided through the process smoothly and professionally. If you have any doubts always triple-check the protocols and guidelines.”
Here’s how you can make sure you compete clean.
Check your medications…
With many diabetics taking a range of medications, it is important for those taking part in competitive sport to check these aren’t named on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, and therefore banned either in or out of competition.
Athletes, coaches, medics, pharmacists, sports administrators, parents and anyone else connected to an athlete can check whether or not a medication is prohibited, and at what times, via the Global DRO website.
…And then check again…
Metformin for example, a drug taken by some diabetics, is not prohibited either in or out of competition in the UK, however ingredients in medications can vary from country to country, so if you’re travelling, training or competing abroad, UKAD always advises athletes to check again on Global DRO to be sure you won’t get caught out.
Because Sir Steve said so!
What if my medications are banned?
Insulin, which is commonly prescribed to many people with diabetes, is prohibited at all times, so athletes who require this must apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Full details of when and how to apply for a TUE can be found on the UKAD website.
Is this a common issue?
There are currently around 3.7 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes, with the number of diabetics rising to around 4.6 million when taking into account those living undiagnosed.
There are currently 48 athletes across 20 different sports who possess a valid TUE granted by UKAD for the use of insulin to treat diabetes. This does not include TUEs granted by International Federations.
So, you’re certainly not alone. If you need any further advice, or have any questions related to your medication, you can contact UKAD via email@example.com.