World Anti-Doping Agency Releases 2021 Banned Substances/Methods List


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Friday released the 2021 list of banned substances and methods that will take effect immediately.

WADA annually releases its compendium of banned substances and methods for in- and out-of-competition use, and those that have sport-specific prohibitions. It is one of eight core “International Standards” that comprise the mandatory procedures that all signatories of the World Anti-Doping Code (the 2021 version of which is here) agree to.

A draft of the list was first published Sept. 30 after approval at WADA’s executive committee meeting earlier that month.

“WADA kindly ask athletes, their entourage and all other stakeholders to review the List carefully and to take particular note of this year’s modifications to avoid inadvertent use of substances and methods that are prohibited in sport for 2021,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said in a statement.

The full English version of the 2o21 list is available here (this and following links are pdfs). WADA also publishes an annual “Summary of Modifications and Explanatory Notes,” which details the differences from the 2020 list. (Links to the list in other languages is available here.) The United States Anti-Doping Agency also culled some key points.

Among the highlights:

  • The 2021 list includes a comprehensive re-design which more specifically separates various classes of substances.
  • One major change is an adjustment to the WADA Code that defines “substances of abuse” as an entity unto itself. These substances – which include cocaine, diamorphine (heroin), MDMA (“ecstasy”) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – were already on the list and remain classified based on their biological activity (i.e. “stimulant.”) But due to their prevalence in society, these drugs now face different sanction, as approved in June. Provided that the use is out-of-competition and “unrelated to sports performance,” the ban is a flat three months without a hearing, which can be reduced to one month “by completing a rehabilitation program that is satisfactory”.
  • Vilanterol, a beta-2 agonist in inhalers to treat asthma, is as of 2021 permitted, “up to the manufacturer’s maximum recommended dose,” which is 25 micrograms as a metered dose (22 micrograms as delivered dose). The substance has caused numerous violations from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, including a three-month ban for Amanda Kendall in 2018 and a public warning in 2019 for Will Licon. (Both declared use of the same brand of inhaler, Breo Ellipta, which contains vilanterol in combination with another substance.)
  • Two additional beta-2 agonists, arformoterol and levosalbutamol, have been added to the list.
  • At the September meeting, WADA approved a measure “prohibiting all injectable routes of administration of glucocorticoids during the in-competition period.” However, the Executive Committee elected to delay implementation until Jan. 1, 2022, to allow “athletes and medical personnel to get a better understanding of the practical implementation of the washout periods, laboratories to update their procedures to incorporate the revised and substance-specific new reporting values, and sports authorities to develop educational tools for athletes, medical and support personnel, addressing the safe use of glucocorticoids for clinical purposes in anti-doping.” (While not specifically cited by WADA, glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone, which is prohibited in competition, have been used to treat COVID-19.)
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