Use of medications and Therapeutic Use Exemptions

Checking Medications

Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications should be checked against the Prohibited List. Athletes should also inform their doctors and other medical professionals of their obligations as high-performance Athletes and emphasise the fact that they are subject to the rules of the World Anti-Doping Code.

We recommend the use of Global Dro to check all 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.

The guidance below will help an athlete or support personnel when checking the status of a substance or medication against the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List*.

INGREDIENTS: Ask your doctor or a pharmacist to check that all the ingredients of your medication are permitted for use in sport. Checking only the brand name of the product can lead to error: in different countries, or even at different times in your own country, a product known under one same brand-name can contain different substances, one or several of which may be prohibited.

CORRECT SPELLING: Do not guess the spelling of the name of a product or its ingredients, as one substance might not be prohibited, while another, with a name that is similar, but not exactly the same, might.

ROUTE OF ADMINISTRATION: The status of a substance may vary depending on how it is used (e.g., orally, by injection etc).

SUBSTANCES PROHIBITED IN PARTICULAR SPORTS: Certain substances are prohibited only in particular sports. Ensure that you consult the Prohibited List to see if your sport prohibits substances that are specific to your sport.

UP TO DATE INFORMATION: Check the status of each ingredient of any medication that you buy, even if you have bought that medication before, as previously acceptable ingredients may have changed in status or new, prohibited ingredients may have been added.

CHANGES TO THE PROHIBITED LIST: Check any existing medication against the current Prohibited List and plan ahead to take any changes into account (an updated List comes into effect on January 1st each year but is first published three months earlier).

PERMITTED ALTERNATIVES: When checking your medication and you find it includes a prohibited substance, you are encouraged to try and find a suitable permitted alternative. Most common ailments can be treated with products that do not contain a prohibited substance!

THERAPEUTIC USE EXEMPTIONS: If a permitted alternative is not available, you may need to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) by submitting a TUE application to your NADO or your IF.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS: Remember, if you can’t find information about a substance or medication, DO NOT assume it is safe to use.

*The Prohibited List outlines which substances and methods are prohibited in sport. A new version of the Prohibited List comes into effect every year on January 1st, however, it may be changed from time to time so it is important that you check for changes on a regular basis. The new List is always published three months before it becomes effective.


In case the substance is prohibited, please check with your doctor if an alternative treatment is feasible. 

If not, you could request a Therapeutic Use of Exemption (TUE) to the International Canoe federation (ICF) if you are competing at an internatinal level, or request it to your national anti-doping agency (NADO) if you are competing at national level.

For more details about the Therapeutic Use of Exemption (TUE), please visit the dedicated TUE page.


This leaflet produced by WADA highlights issues relating to taking prescription and over-the-counter medications as they relate to the fight against doping in sport. Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese