- Tramadol has been on the WADA Monitoring Program for some years. Monitoring data has indicated significant Use in sports including cycling, rugby and football. Tramadol abuse, with its dose-dependent risks of physical dependence, opiate addiction and overdoses in the general population, is of concern and has led to it being a controlled drug in many countries. Research studies funded by WADA1 have confirmed the potential for tramadol to enhance physical performance in sports. Consequently, as proposed in the draft 2023 Prohibited List circulated for consultation to stakeholders in May 2022, WADA’s Executive Committee approved, at its 23 September 2022 meeting, prohibiting tramadol during the In-Competition period. However, in order to thoroughly and widely communicate the rule changes and to allow sufficient time for information and education, the Executive Committee decided to introduce the prohibition of tramadol and the implementation of the new rule on 1 January 2024. A one-year delay in implementation will allow Athletes and medical personnel to better prepare for the change, Laboratories to update their procedures, and sports authorities to develop educational tools.
1 a) Holgado D, Zandonai T, Zabala M, Hopker J, Perakakis P, Luque-Casado A, Ciria L, Guerra-Hernandez E, Sanabria D. Tramadol effects on physical performance and sustained attention during a 20-min indoor cycling time-trial: A randomised controlled trial. JSci Med Sport. 2018 Jul;21(7):654-660.
b) Mauger L, Thomas T, Smith S, Fenell C. (2022). Is tramadol a performance enhancing drug? A randomised controlled trial. British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine Conference, 26-27 May 2022, Brighton, UK.