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Salbutamol permitted below threshold, pseudoephedrine banned
The Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has approved its new list of Prohibited Substances and Methods for 2010. While the new list will be published on October 1, WADA has already released two major changes, both taking effect on January 1, 2010.
In a significant change to the WADA list, asthma medication salbutamol will no longer require a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), but rather a simplified declaration of use. The use of the substance, which remains prohibited if its concentration is found to be above 1,000 nanograms per millilitre of urine, will be permitted below this threshold without a TUE. According to WADA, "this measure will allow the handling of salbutamol by anti-doping organizations in a more cost-efficient way."
But this step has already led to some controversy within anti-doping institutions. According to Michel Rieu, scientist at the French Anti-Doping Agency, salbutamol should remain banned in any concentration. Rieu said to L'Equipe that in order to reach the 1000 ng/ml threshold, "you really have to mess things up and not follow classic doping protocol. Those who cheat use salbutamol as a cure, out of competition, and are careful not to reach these kind of concentrations during competition."
The use of salbutamol in cycling is wide-spread and many pro cyclists justify their intake of the substance by citing breathing problems due to asthma. Alessandro Petacchi, for example, tested positive for the drug in 2007. The Italian's urine values exceeded the 1000 ng/ml threshold, and the athlete was forced to prove that this high finding was a consequence of his therapeutic use of the asthma medication.
Pseudoephedrine will be reintroduced to the WADA list as a stimulant. Pseudoephedrine had been banned until 2004, when it was included in the WADA's monitoring program in order to detect patterns of misuse. Subsequently, the program detected clear abuse of the substance and it will therefore be prohibited again as of next year.
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