The Prohibited List

As an athlete or athlete support personnel, it is very important that you are familiar with the WADA Prohibited List and know how to check whether the medication you plan to take is prohibited or permitted. Remember that athletes are solely responsible for what they ingest or use.

The Prohibited list is set by WADA and is updated at least annually. It includes both substances and methods and it is categorized into 3 groups:

  1. Substances and methods prohibited at all times
  2. Substances and methods prohibited in-competition
  3. Substances prohibited in particular sports

A substance or method can be added to the Prohibited List if it meets two of the following three criteria:

  1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance.
  2. Use of the substance or method represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete.
  3. Use of the substance or method violates the spirit of sport.

The Prohibited List is a comprehensive yet complicated document. Here are a few tips and tricks to help athletes and athlete support personnel navigate it:

  • Not everything on the Prohibited List is a medicine
  • Not every prohibited medicine is listed
  • Other substances with similar chemical structure or effect can also be prohibited
  • Only the ingredient names are listed, not brand names
  • Check the route of administration of the medicine
  • Check male or female use
  • Check dose restrictions
  • Many natural products are not specifically listed
  • Regularly check for updates to the Prohibited List

Both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications should be checked against the Prohibited List. Athletes should also inform their doctors of their obligations as high-performance athletes. In addition, it is important not to substitute one brand of medication for another without checking – they may contain different ingredients. Finally, the same brand or type of a medication may have different medical ingredients in another country – extra caution is recommended while travelling!

We recommend to use Global DRO to check all your medications. The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) provides athletes and support personnel with information about the prohibited status of specific medications based on the current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.


Extreme caution is recommended regarding supplement use. Many countries do not follow strict rules in the manufacturing and labelling of supplements which may lead to a supplement containing a substance that is prohibited under anti-doping regulations. A significant number of positive tests have been attributed to the misuse of supplements and poorly labelled dietary supplements.

Before taking any supplements, you should weigh the benefits of their use against the risks. If you do decide to use supplements as part of your training and competition regime, check out the ITA supplement guide article first.