WADA publishes updated Guidance Note for Anti-Doping Organizations regarding Substances of Abuse under 2021 World Anti-Doping Code

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Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) publishes an updated version of its Guidance Note regarding Substances of Abuse under the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code (Code), which was first published in January 2021. 

The Guidance Note has been updated to include: 

  • guidance for the evaluation of diamorphine (heroin) Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs); 

  • additional notes for the interpretation of cocaine AAFs; 

  • background information on diamorphine, cocaine, and tetrahydrocannabinol; and 

  • scientific literature to support the interpretation of the results. 


Pursuant to Article 4.2.3 of the Code, since 2021 some substances on the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (Prohibited List) have been identified as Substances of Abuse “because they are frequently abused in society outside the context of sport.” 

WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group has identified the following substances as Substances of Abuse on the Prohibited List: 

  • Cocaine (S.6a – Non-specified Stimulants); 

  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA / “ecstasy”) (S.6b – Specified Stimulants); 

  • Diamorphine (Heroin) (S.7 – Narcotics); and 

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (S.8 – Cannabinoids). 

Under Article of the Code, regarding these substances, “if the Athlete can establish that any ingestion or Use occurred Out-of-Competition and was unrelated to sport performance, then the period of Ineligibility shall be three months Ineligibility. In addition, the period of Ineligibility calculated under this Article may be reduced to one month if the Athlete or other Person satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by the Anti-Doping Organization with Results Management responsibility.” 

The Guidance Note offers direction to Anti-Doping Organizations regarding application of Code Article 4.2.3.  

Should you have any questions, or wish to provide feedback, please contact WADA’s Science Department at: