To start with, I will be a little bit blunt on this subject. Quite simply, DON’T DO IT!!!! That being said, there is a bit more to this topic than most people believe!
While the idea of deliberately taking a drug or supplement which is on the banned substances list, purely for the benefits of enhancing your performance as an athlete, is rather silly; there are many health conditions where commonly used medications are actually banned for use in sports.
So for those of us who have, for whatever reason, been prescribed a banned substance to treat a legitimate medical condition, what are we to do???
It really depends on the sport you play and the level at which you compete. Therapeutic use exemptions, or TUEs, can be granted in most cases through the appropriate channels (here in Australia, ASADA are the guys to talk to) in consultation with your GP. Many amateur athletes, who are not competing at the elite level of their sport, don’t even need a TUE anymore*.
What about those over the counter tablets that you are taking for your back pain? Or a stuffy nose? Or your never ending hay fever?
Many athletes have gotten into trouble in the past, by taking over the counter medications and presuming they are okay for use….but this is not always the case! While most of these types of treatments are perfectly fine for use in sports, some are a no go. To make things even more complicated, some are okay for use, as long as you are not competing at the time! For the treatment of mild or short term conditions, the application of a TUE is simply not feasible. So where does that leave the athlete? Well, there are 2 simple options. Firstly, check! Ask your coach, ask your club mates, check online, or ask your friendly local sports pharmacist (hint hint!!). Secondly, if in doubt, best not to risk it.
The rules do change on a regular basis though. So it is important that, before you take any medications, you check with a reliable source. The last thing you want, as a competitive athlete, is to be banned from participating in the sport you love just because you made an innocent mistake.
*In Australia, ASADA have become a bit more lenient with TUEs at some levels of amateur competition, allowing retrospective TUEs to be granted if needed, after a drug test has been performed. Check with your club, coach, ASADA, or send me an e-mail for a bit more information!