Tramadol, a product used by Nairo Quintana on the Tour de France, a painkiller banned in cycling since 2019


If placed under surveillance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but not banned, tramadol, a product used by Nairo Quintana on the Tour de France, has been totally banned in cycling since 2019, in particular because of its side effects. .

What is tramadol?

Tramadol is an opioid painkiller. In addition to a drug dependence which is created in a few days, encouraging to increase the catches to obtain the same effects, tramadol counts, among its side effects, a loss of attention and an increase in reaction time. Effects which, in the context of a peloton race, can be dangerous and cause falls.

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Who bans tramadol?

The UCI banned its use in competition on March 1, 2019 (a campaign promise from David Lappartient, the president of the International Federation). Unlike the UCI, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does not ban it but has placed it in its surveillance program since 2012, in competition – in order to “monitor to be able to determine the potential prevalence of use in sport”. Having been unable to obtain its classification as a prohibited substance by WADA in the anti-doping regulations, the UCI had used the health approach and its medical regulations to prohibit its use.

How is tramadol detected?

The detection of tramadol is done by a blood sample, only a few drops taken from the tip of a finger. The analysis carried out is not a quantitative control but a search for tramadol and two of its metabolites (i.e. two products resulting from its degradation in the body), witnesses of recent intake (between one hour and thirty-six hours after its absorption).

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At the time of his ban, the medical director of the UCI Xavier Bigard, specified that  » [leur] objective is to limit the risks caused by tramadol. and therefore to fight against its use during competitions, where the side effects could present risks in the peloton.

What is the penalty for a positive tramadol test?

The penalty for a first offense is disqualification from the race – and loss of the classification obtained – during which the control took place, but no suspension is foreseen. In the event of a repeat offence, a suspension of five months is applied, increased to nine months in the event of a third check.

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