A MEDICINE CABINET FULL OF POSITIVES
Ever take a couple Aleve-D pills for a bad sinus
headache? You could test positive. Ever pick up an
over-the-counter Benzedrex inhaler to clear out your
sinuses? That’s another way to test positive. In fact,
something as harmless as a Vicks VapoInhaler will get
you busted thanks to its ingredient Levmetamfetamine,
which is also found in a number of similar products.
Okay, if most of the nasal inhalers can’t be used, what
can a racer take if he’s all stuffed up? Try putting a piece
of cotton up each nostril with a drop of eucalyptus oil on
it. That will open up your sinuses in no time flat!
Do you have allergies? Ever use Zyrtec-D Once-a-Day
for your symptoms? You might want to think again.
In fact, this last example happened to Swedish goalie
Nicklas Backstrom at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
Backstrom missed the gold-medal game due to the fact
that his urine test showed 190 micrograms-per-milliliter
concentration of Pseudoephedrine. The WADA limit is 150
If all of this isn’t enough to give you a headache
(at least ibuprofen isn’t on the banned list), different
formulations of the same brand will have different
ingredients. Take the brand Mucinex as an example.
Mucinex Sinus-Max will give you nothing to worry about,
but Mucinex D could result in a competition ban. Even
though they both address sinus pressure, congestion and
pain, the former contains Phenylephrine while the latter
The good news is that Phenylephrine was recently
removed from the banned substance list. This opens the
door to many more cold medications, such as Sudafed PE
and DayQuil Cold & Flu, that won’t get you into trouble
with the drug police. Caffeine, over a certain level, also
used to be on the banned list, but thankfully it, too, has
All right, enough about the cold and sinus medications.
How about just some simple products from the local
Vitamin Shoppe or GNC that boost recovery and increase
energy? When a product’s label claims hyper-hydration,
enhanced endurance and muscle-building potential, it
sounds great. And, these are just a few of the
performance claims made by supplements containing
Glycerol Monostearate (GSM on some labels). It’s easy to
imagine a racer perusing the shelves and deciding to give
one of these products a try, but that would be a huge
mistake, because Glycerol is on the banned list.
How about those bottles with the shiny logos
that claim to improve lean muscle mass and boost
your immunity levels? They could contains DHEA
(Dehydroepiandrosterone) and will get you in a load of
trouble, just ask Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton.
THERAPEUTIC USE EXEMPTION
Those athletes who have a documented medical
condition requiring the use of a prohibited substance or
method must request a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)
from USADA or WADA. The caveat is that, unless it’s an
emergency situation, a TUE has to be applied for well
before a drug test takes place. You cannot claim it
retroactively as James Stewart wanted to do. So, those
on Ritalin or Adderall for ADHD, insulin for diabetes or
those who get cortisone shots for their bad knees need to
be sure that their paperwork is in order.
Since you’re responsible for what goes into your body,
even if it got there unknowingly, it behooves you to take
a very close look at any supplements you are using.
With little to no regulation in the multi-billion dollar
supplement market, many studies have shown that
not everything on the ingredient list is in the products.
Sometimes substances are left off the list on the bottle,
and sometimes unwanted foreign ingredients are acciden-
tally included in the mix.
The tainted-supplement excuse has been used all too
often when an athlete tests positive, but there are also
plenty of cases that show that it has merit. Many
supplement brands use a single manufacturer for various
categories of supplements mixed at the same facility. For
example, protein powder and multi-vitamins could be
processed on the same equipment as a weight-loss drug
or a Mega-Muscle product using DHEA. The potential to
consume something unexpected due to cross-contamination is a justifiable worry. Do your homework
on the brands you’re using and make sure they can
guarantee their products are made in a facility that does
not use any WADA-banned products.