specificed substance | athlete taking pills | international sports law lawyerThe World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Prohibited List is a mandatory International Standard of the World Anti-Doping Program that identifies not only the types of substances and methods that will trigger an anti-doping rule violation, but also whether the prohibited substance or method is specified or non-specified—a critical distinction that can have significant consequences on the length of sanction an athlete faces for an anti-doping rule violation. Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the inclusion of a substance or method on the Prohibited List and its classification as either non-specified or specified is final and cannot be challenged.

Specified Substances and Methods

Specified substances and methods are those WADA considers more likely to have been consumed or used by an athlete for a purpose other than the enhancement of sport performance. For example, diuretics and masking agents are classified on the Prohibited List as specified substances since athletes commonly use them to treat a variety of lady bird deed michigan medical conditions rather than for performance-enhancing purposes. Examples of diuretics and masking agents found on the Prohibited List include:

  • Desmopressin
  • Probenecid
  • Plasma expanders, e.g. intravenous administration of albumin, dextran, hydroxyethyl starch, and mannitol
  • Acetazolamide
  • Amiloride
  • Bumetanideanrenone
  • Chlortalidone
  • Etacrynic acid
  • Furosemide
  • Indapamide
  • Metolazone
  • Spironolactone
  • Thiazides, e.g. bendroflumethiazide, chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide
  • Torasemide
  • Triamterene
  • Vaptans, e.g. tolvaptan

It is important to remember that even though a substance or method is designated as specified, it isn’t necessarily considered less effective than a non-specified substance or method and it doesn’t reduce an athlete’s obligation to be responsible for all substances that enter their body.

The standard sanction is two years for an athlete who tests positive for a specified substance; however, because of a specified substance’s inherent unrelatedness to enhancing an athlete’s performance, under the World Anti-Doping Code, athletes have the opportunity to receive a greater reduction in their sanction than they otherwise would for a non-specified substance. For example, an athlete who tests positive for a specified substance such as spironolactone can have their sanction reduced to a warning and no period of ineligibility depending on their degree of fault.

Non-Specified Substances and Methods

Non-specified substances and methods are those which are thought to be most likely used for performance enhancement purposes. For example, anabolic agents, peptide hormones, SARMs, and growth factors, which are all commonly used to improve physique and performance rather than for medicinal purposes are considered non-specified substances.

Because of the inherent seriousness of these types of substances, a positive test for a non-specified substance typically results in a sanction of four years of ineligibility for a first violation. Athletes have the opportunity to reduce their sanction to levels equivalent of a specified substance if they are able to prove the non-specified substance came from a contaminated product. Otherwise, the lowest sanction an athlete can receive—assuming they are able to prove they didn’t take the substance with the intent to cheat—is one year.

Substances of Abuse

In addition to the specified and non-specified classifications, certain substances are also classified as substances of abuse. Substances of abuse are those that are “frequently abused in society outside the context of sport.” WADA considers the following to be substances of abuse:

  • Cocaine: non-specified stimulant
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA/ecstasy): specified stimulant
  • Diamorphine (Heroin): specified narcotic
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): specified cannabinoid

If an athlete can establish a substance of abuse was used out of competition and unrelated to sport performance, their period of ineligibility will be dropped to three months. It can be reduced even further to one month if the athlete satisfactorily completes an approved substance of abuse treatment program.