Key changes in WADA’s 2018 Prohibited List: IVs & Gene Doping

Published 13 October 2017 By: Philip Hutchinson

Syringes and red transparent pills

On 29 September 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published the 2018 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (the Prohibited List),1 which will come into force on 1 January 2018. They have also published a Summery of Major Modifications and Explanatory Notes2.

The key reason for the announcement (and indeed publication) of the 2018 Prohibited List some three months prior to it coming into force is to ensure that all stakeholders, athletes and other individuals working in sport have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the List and the modifications to it. Indeed, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie has publically urged that

"all athletes and entourage take the necessary time to consult the List" and appealed to them to "contact their respecting anti-doping organisations (ADOs) if they have any doubts as to the status of a substance or method."3

Given the enhanced media spotlight on doping in sport over the previous twelve months, these comments by Sir Reedie will hopefully go some way to ensuring that education around anti-doping for athletes and their "entourages" remain high on the agenda of all sports across the world.

This article briefly summarises the key modifications and changes in the 2018 Prohibited List.


Intravenous (IV) infusions (M2)

The time window for intravenous infusions of permitted substances has been extended. Specifically, the new limit with regard to intravenous infusions has been changed from 50ml per 6-hour period to no more than a total of 100ml per 12-hour period in order to allow greater flexibility for the safe administration of non-prohibited therapeutic substances, for example, iron4. Athletes must therefore be aware that IV infusions and/or injections of any substance that is over the threshold of 100ml per 12-hour period are prohibited at all times.

This rule is caveated however, and will not include those infusions/injections which were legitimately received by the athlete in hospital treatment (which has in fact been widened from the original wording of "hospital admissions" in the previous Prohibited List to reflect medical practice), surgical procedures or clinical diagnostic investigations.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) will be required if a prohibited substance is administered intravenously or injected, irrespective of whether this substance is more/less than the 100ml per 12-hour period limit.


Dosing Parameters of Salbutamol (S3) 

The dosing parameters of Salbutamol have been amended to ensure that there is clarity around the limits on the divided doses . Given that Beta-2 Agonists are an often debated issue in practice, this amendment ought to be well received. Under the 2018 Prohibited List, these divided doses may now not exceed 800 micrograms over any twelve hour period.


Removal of Cannabidiol (S8) 

This substance is no longer prohibited under the S8 Cannabinoids category of the List. However, athletes must remain aware that synthetic cannabinoids (i.e. 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and other cannabimimetics) remain prohibited.


Removal of Alcohol (P1) 

One of the most significant changes is the removal of alcohol from the 2018 Prohibited List. Despite alcohol being prohibited in-competition in four sports previously, WADA have sought to remove it

"not to compromise the integrity or safety of any sport where alcohol use is a concern, but rather to endorse a different means of enforcing bans on alcohol use in these sports"5

The emphasis is therefore on the International Federations affected by this amendment to police it themselves by putting in place protocol to test for alcohol use and appropriately sanction athletes who do not abide by the rules of their sport.


Specific examples of Prohibited Substances (S2) 

To help enhance the user-friendly nature and understanding of the Prohibited List, WADA have sought to include specific examples of what amounts to a “Prohibited Substance”. These examples provided (such as Thymosin B-4 and its derivatives) also reflect the substances which were the subject of (and appeared in) anti-doping cases throughout the consultation period.


Revision of “Gene Doping” Definition (M3) 

Given the medical advances in gene manipulation procedures and technologies, WADA have revised the definition of gene doping to take account of this.



Whilst the changes to the 2018 Prohibited List are not in themselves ground-breaking, the updates and amendments serve as a reminder that WADA is making a concerted effort to remain on top of the ever-changing doping landscape in sport. With an intense consultation period which encompasses the involvement of both stakeholders, scientists and athletes alike, it is refreshing to see WADA utilising the opinions and involvement from all angles of sport.

However, while the publication of the 2018 Prohibited List is important, the key priority is ensuring that all athletes subject to the WADA Code and Prohibited List are aware of it and take time to gain a true understanding of it. Only then can it be said that "clean sport" is a realistic possibility.


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Philip Hutchinson

Philip Hutchinson

Senior Associate, Mills & Reeve

Phil is a Senior Associate at Mills & Reeve LLP specialising in sports litigation and sports regulatory matters, with a particular focus on the football industry. Phil has worked on a number of high profile integrity/match fixing and doping cases across a variety of sports and also regularly advises football clubs, agents and players on transfers, most notably where work permits are required. He also has extensive experience in representing agents, players and managers in both the High Court and FA Rule K arbitration cases. Phil is the only individual in the West Midlands to be ranked as a “Next Generation Sports Lawyer” (Legal 500 2019) and a “Rising Star” (Legal 500 2020), who also describe him as “emerging as a confident and capable litigator”. Phil speaks German and is also a member of the Sport Resolutions Pro Bono Panel.

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