Drugs banned from the Olympics/Citable Version

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In 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency was established to deal with the increasing problem of doping in the sports world and follows three fundamental principals, protecting the health of athletes, respecting medical and sports ethics, and ensuring equality for all athletes. The list of drugs banned from the Olympics[1] is determined by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The banned substances and techniques fall into the following categories: androgenic agents, blood doping, peptide hormones, stimulants, diuretics, narcotics and cannabinoids. The use of alcohol (ethanol) is banned in selected sports only during actual competition.

Blood Doping

Blood doping is the injection of red blood cells, related blood products that contain red blood cells, or artificial oxygen containers. This is done by extracting and storing one's own blood prior to an athletic competition, well in advance of the competition so that the body can replenish its natural levels of red blood cells, and subsequently injecting the stored blood immediately before competition. The resulting unnatural level of red blood cells improves oxygen transport and athletic endurance.

Banned androgenic agents

Banned androgenic agents are either anabolic steroids, which increase testosterone and epitestosterone, thereby improving muscle strength and endurance, or beta-2 agonists (see adrenergic beta-agonist). Andro, DHEA, stanozolol, testosterone and nandrolone, or derivates (see below) are banned anabolic steroids. Beta-2 agonists can act as bronchodilators and increase heart rates, in addition to their mild androgenic effects. Other banned androgenic agents include bambuterol, clenbuterol, salbutamol, tibolone, zeranol, zilpaterol and selective androgen receptor modulators. While a few of the banned drugs are endogenous, that is they are normally produced in the human body, most of the banned drug are exogenous drugs chemically produced.

Exogenous anabolic androgenic steroids

This is the complete list of exogenous (non-natural) androgenic agents banned as of January 1, 2008:

Drugs with similar structures and biological activity are also banned because new designer drugs of this sort are always being developed in order to beat the drug tests.

Endogenous anabolic androgenic steroids

Metabolites and isomers

  • 5-androstane-3,17-diol
  • 5-androstane-3,17-diol
  • 5-androstane-3,17-diol
  • 5-androstane-3,17-diol
  • androst-4-ene-3,17-diol
  • androst-4-ene-3,17-diol
  • androst-4-ene-3,17-diol
  • androst-4-ene-3,17-diol
  • androst-5-ene-3,17-diol

Hormones and related substances

Certain peptide hormones increase bulk, stength, and oxygen-carrying red blood cells. The peptide hormones erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormone (hGH), Insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1, etc.), Mechano growth factors (MGFs), chorionic gonadatrophin (banned in men only), somatotrophin (growth hormone), insulins and corticotrophins, corticosteroid mimics, and their releasing factor, are banned.

Beta-2 agonists

All beta-2 agonists and their D- and L- isomers, are banned. However, formoterol, salbutamol, salmeterol and terbutaline may be used with a "therapeutic use exemption", only in the inhaled form.

Hormone antagonists and modulators

Hormone levels of a particular hormone, like testosterone, can be changed not only by administering it, but also by alterating related hormones. For example, the estrogens estrone and estradiol are biosynthetically produced by the enzyme aromatase, respectively, from androstenedione and testosterone, which are both produced from 17-hydroxyprogesterone. Thus, when the body senses low levels of estrogen, the precursor compounds 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione and testosterone are up-regulated. Likewise, interferring with a hormone's receptor leads to similar effects. Because of these natural hormone-hormone interdependent biosynthetic pathways and hormone-receptor interactions, all aromatase inhibitors, including but not limited to, anastrozole, letrozole, aminoglutethimide, exemestane, formestane and testolactone are banned. Selective estrogen receptor modulators, including but not limited to raloxifene, tamoxifen and toremifene are banned. Clomiphene, cyclofenil, fulvestrant and all other anti-estrogenic substances are banned. Myostatin inhibitors are banned.


Stimulants directly affect the central nervous system, increasing blood flow and heart rate. Stimulants that are banned include amphetamines, beta-2 agonists, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, fencamfamine, cocaine, methamphetamines, mesocarb and other substances with similar chemical structures and biological effects, including, but not limited to, the following.

Diuretics and masking agents

Diuretics, which increase the production of urine, and masking agents, chemical compounds which interefere with drug tests, are banned for two reasons. First, by decreasing water retention and thus decreasing an athlete's weight, an important consideration in many speed sports, they increase the speed of an athlete. Secondly, increased urine production depletes the concentration of both the banned drugs and their metabolites, making their detection more difficult. Masking agents, on the other hand, work by making drug tests ineffective, leading to false-negative results.


The following diuretics, and chemicals with similar structure or biological activity are banned.

Narcotics and cannabinoids

Narcotic analgesics decrease the sensation of serious injuries, allowing athletes to continue training or competition after serious injuries. While some pain killers are allowed, including codeine, the following are banned:

The cannabinoids marijuana and hashish are also banned.


Glucocorticoids are a class of corticosteroids that affect the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and proteins, and regulate glycogen and blood pressure levels. They possess pronounced anti-inflammatory activity and cause alteration of connective tissue in response to injuries. The anti-inflammatory and connective tissue effects of glucocorticoids might mask injuries, leading to more serious injuries to athletes. Because of this and metabolic regulation effects, the administration of any glucorticoid orally, rectally, intraveniously or intramuscularly is prohibited and requires a therapeutic use exemption. Topical uses of glucocorticoids does not require an exemption.

Beta blockers

Beta blockers are prohibited only during competition (with a few exceptions), in selected sports. The prohibited beta blockers include, but are not limited to:

References and notes