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22/12/2021 - Institutional news

Research by the Catalonian Anti-Doping Laboratory is the basis for the World Anti-Doping Agency's new rules on the use of glucocorticoids in sport

From 2022, the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of prohibited substances and methods in sport is to include important changes regarding the use of glucocorticoids in sport. From this point on, all injectable methods will be prohibited during competitions, in addition to oral and rectal administration. Other ways of receiving the medication, such as via inhalation, intranasal or dermatological routes, will continue to be permitted if their use is necessary for therapeutic reasons. There will still be no restrictions on the use of glucocorticoids in out-of-competition periods. 

Criteria have also been defined to improve the safety of glucocorticoid administration for therapeutic reasons. Firstly, the distinction between prohibited and permitted routes of administration has been improved by defining a specific information concentration for each glucocorticoid. Secondly, blanking periods after prohibited treatments have been defined so that those performed in out-of-competition periods close to competitions do not lead to false positive results in samples collected during competitions.

These changes were proposed as a result of the work of WADA's Glucocorticoid Working Group, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and will come into effect from January 2022.

Dr. Rosa Ventura Alemany, director of the Catalonian Antidoping Laboratory, coordinator of the Doping Control Research Group and member of the WADA Glucocorticoid Working Group, explains that the laboratory has been researching glucocorticoids for more than ten years, through competitive projects from both MINECO and WADA. "Our results have provided the scientific basis of these changes and will make the use of glucocorticoids in sport more rational and less detrimental to athletes' health."  She goes on to say that "Improving the criteria for distinguishing prohibited use from permitted methods of administration for therapeutic reasons, and defining blanking periods allows for improved safety in the therapeutic administration of glucocorticoids." 

Some of the projects have been developed in collaboration with the IMIM Cell Research on Inflammation and Cartilage group, coordinated by Dr. Jordi Monfort, as well as, currently, with F.C. Barcelona and the Catalan Sports Council.

Photo caption: Núria Monfort, Élida Alechaga, Rosa Ventura, Sergi Coll and Claudia Bressan, researchers at the Catalonian Anti-Doping Laboratory conducting research on glucocorticoids. 

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