Professional cyclists taking the painkiller tramadol will now face disqualification from races, fines and potentially suspension by the UCI.
According to the World Anit-Doping Agency (WADA), tramadol is frequently used by riders. Some use the medication to treat pain, but others use the drug to improve their performance on the bike. A trial titled “Tramadol effects on physical performance and sustained attention during a 20-min indoor cycling time-trial: A randomized controlled trial” was published earlier this year which found that rider’s power output increased when taking tramadol.
According to WADA, 4.4 percent of in-competition tests on cyclists showed the use of tramadol. A full 68 percent of urine samples taken from 35 Olympic sports that contained the drug were taken from cyclists.
The drug is not included on WADA’s list of prohibited substances, despite calls for it to be banned. Instead, tramadol is listed on the WADA Monitoring List.
The UCI has unilaterally opted to ban the substance starting March 1.