Costa case reflected in 2011 WADA prohibited list

Alberto Rui Costa (Caisse d'Epargne)

Alberto Rui Costa (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Patrik Pátek)

The 2011 prohibited list published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) contains several key changes, one of which may help to decide the fate of Rui Costa and his brother Mario who tested positive for methylexaneamine during the Tour of Portugal.

Methylexaneamine positives have cropped up across the sporting world this year, hitting athletes from a number of countries. According to WADA, the banned stimulant has not been used in medical applications since the 1970s, but the substance had "reappeared in a number of nutritional supplements and was therefore subject to potential inadvertent use by athletes".

The change to the rules didn't come quickly enough for the Costa brothers, or the dozen other athletes found positive for the drug during the Commonwealth Games.

Because of the increased risk of unintentional use, the drug was re-classified for 2011 from the "non-specified" to "specified" stimulant class, meaning a positive could carry a punishment anywhere from a mere warning to a two-year ban next year. The Costa brothers were provisionally suspended following the positive test, and under 2010 rules could face a two-year ban.

The new classification still requires athletes to prove that they did not intend to enhance performance "to the satisfaction of the results management authority" in order to receive a reduced sanction.

Other changes to the prohibited list include the addition of a new category called "Non-Approved Substances" which are banned in and out of competition. These include any substances not already on the list which are not approved by any government regulatory agency for human use. That would capture drugs which are in clinical trials or which have been discontinued.

Platelet-derived preparations, which have been used by some athletes to help aid healing of injuries, were prohibited when injected intra-muscularly this year, but have been removed from the banned list for 2011 "after consideration of the lack of current evidence concerning the use of these methods for purposes of performance enhancement".

The requirement to file a "Declaration of Use" of non-banned substances (for example, the asthma drug salbutamol) has been removed for 2011, and caffeine continues to be allowed after research showed excessive quantities degrade performance rather than enhance it.

Finally, Actovegin is not prohibited unless used by intravenous injection, which is a banned method. WADA only allows intravenous injection by syringe of less than 50mL.

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