The MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) announced today that at their latest meeting on October 21, doctors from 17 teams who are members of the organisation committed to no longer using tramadol, a pain-killing opioid, in competition.
"Gérard Guillaume, representing the MPCC teams' doctors, said that this drug was 'dangerous in competition' while [the UCI's] Mario Zorzoli drew attention to its 'side effects'," read the MPCC statement. "Tramadol causes drowsiness and conditions that could lead to falls in a race. Doctors of teams that are members of MPCC are committed to no longer use tramadol in competition."
Tramadol is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned substances, but has once again been added to the agency's Monitored List for 2014. The substance has been on the Monitored List since 2012 and recent reports have raised the issue of abuse of the substance within the professional peloton.
Dr. Prentice Steffen, head physician for the Garmin-Sharp team, spoke to Cyclingnews previously about the pain-killer's performance enhancing abilities.
"It’s not a big performance enhancer but it could make the difference of a fraction of a percent," said Steffen. "It’s like nothing compared to EPO or blood doping but it’s more on the side of cortico-steroids. If blood doping is a ten then it’s a two, maybe.
"I can imagine it being used for training. Anything that makes an intense effort or suffering more tolerable is going to give you a training advantage."
WADA's monitoring program is utilised to test for specific substance which aren't on the Prohibited List but which WADA wishes to keep tabs on in order to detect patterns of misuse. WADA has confirmed that a ‘significant’ number of tests have shown traces of the drug.
The MPCC, however, hopes that WADA will place tramadol in the Prohibited List.
"MPCC has always endeavoured to defend the riders’ health and it is in this sense that have been established the controls of cortisol rate in several major competitions this year," said the MPCC. "The battle for tramadol to be registered in the list of prohibited substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency follows the same logic."