The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has added both Xenon and Argon gases to its list of ‘Prohibited Substances and Methods.’
WADA announced their intention to do so during a meeting in May, but had to wait a prescribed notice period of three months after it had informed the responsible governing bodies and anti-doping authorities.
The two substances are known as Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF) activators and have been proven to stimulate growth of erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone. It also reduces the level of oxygen in the blood. Until recently, WADA had not been aware of either substance and neither appeared on their watchlist. However, it came to wider attention when it was discovered that Russian athletes were using Xenon during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Garmin-Sharp head physician Prentice Steffen lead the call for the gas to be banned by WADA. He spoke to Cyclingnews in February saying, “we looked into Xenon, honestly, but we had several concerns about it and we ultimately decided not to use it. There’s really nothing good in terms of safety or athletic enhancement and then you throw in the ethical considerations. I personally feel that it crosses a line and that it’s unethical so we decided not to pursue it.”
Fellow MPCC members Giant-Shimano backed up Steffen in March, after WADA announced that they would look into the effects of the gas. Steffen and the MPCC have also called for the agency to ban Tramadol, however this has not been included in the latest update.
Currently there is no test for Xenon or Argon.