The WADA Prohibited List endeavours to capture as many known substances and methods that satisfy any two of the following three criteria:
1. Potential to enhance or enhances sports performance
2. An actual or potential health risk to the athlete
3. Use violates the spirit of sport (outlined in the Code)
Substances or methods which mask the effect of prohibited substances are also prohibited. In addition, a substance which has not been approved for human use is likely to be prohibited as well.
Substances are grouped under the “S” categories, which are either:
i. Closed categories: all the prohibited substances are included by name in the category e.g. S6.a (Non-specified stimulants), S7 (Narcotics).
ii. Open categories with examples: composed of a non-exhaustive list of examples representing the most typical drugs in the group, based on their chemical structure and/or mechanism of action, e.g. S2 (Peptide hormones, growth factors & related substances), S6.b (Specified stimulants). Other substances in these categories are either captured by the name of a family of compounds (e.g. Corticotrophins) or by more general statements such as:
1. “other substances with similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s)”.
2. “including but not limited to..”
3. “any other growth factor affecting .....”
iii. Open categories without examples: no particular substances are listed but they are captured if they belong to a particular pharmacological class e.g. S9 (Glucocorticosteroids) or if they meet a particular criteria e.g. S0, which refers to substances not approved for human therapeutic use .
This means that while the status of some substances is straight forward (e.g. for those that are specifically listed by name), this is not necessarily the case for substances that are not included by name on the List. For these substances, it is necessary to gather information on, for example, their chemical structure, pharmacological/biologic actions and whether they are approved for human therapeutic use anywhere in the world. This verification can take some time to complete, especially for non-approved drugs (e.g. designer drugs, new investigational drugs) for which little scientific information is publicly available. In such cases, WADA will not be able to immediately determine the status of that substance. It is in the best interest of the athlete to refrain from taking any substance or use any method if its status is unknown or unclear.
This process of thoroughly collecting and analysing information on substances and methods is the way to practically manage the Prohibited List, as it encompasses thousands of substances and methods, and has the potential to capture many thousands more which have not yet caught the attention of the anti-doping movement.