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Cortisone in sport

Glucocorticoids, often called cortisone, are drugs that are effective against inflammation and can influence the immune system. However, they are also misused in sports to increase performance. Glucocorticoids have the particular feature in WADA's regulations that their use may be permitted or prohibited depending on when and by which route of administration they are used. Below you can find out what athletes should consider. 

The most important things at a glance

The use of glucocorticoids (cortisone) by the oral, rectal or any injectable route is prohibited in-competition. Out-of-competition, these routes of administration are permitted. 

All other routes of administration of glucocorticoids, e.g. on the skin or by inhalation, are permitted at any time.

Testing pool athletes and players in certain professional leagues must apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption if glucocorticoids are administered orally, rectally or by injection in-competition.

In addition, the presence of glucocorticoids in a doping control in-competition is prohibited, even if the use has already been terminated before the competition. If glucocorticoids are detected in an in-competition doping sample, all athletes, regardless of their testing pool or league affiliation, must apply for a retroactive Therapeutic Use Exemption. WADA recommends observing the minimum intervals between the end of the glucocorticoid use an the next competition (see table) to reduce the risk of a positive in-competition doping test.

Table with application types, glucocorticoids and washout periodsEnlarge Image
Washout periods for glucocorticoids

In-competition period

The period commencing at 11:59 p.m. on the day before a competition in which the athlete is scheduled to participate until the end of the competition and the sample collection process related to that competition. WADA however may approve, an alternative definition for particular sports.

Questions and Answers about Glucocorticoids/Cortisone in Sport

Important documents

2024 Summary of Major Modfications

2024 Summary of Major Modfications

Glucocorticoids and Therapeutic Use Exemptions

Glucocorticoids and Therapeutic Use Exemptions

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Prohibited List 2024

Prohibited List 2024