World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2018 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods – An analysis of key changes and modifications

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2018 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods – An analysis of key changes and modifications

On 29 September 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) published the 2018 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (the “Prohibited List”). The 2018 Prohibited List, which comes into force on 1 January 2018, was approved by WADA’s Executive Committee on 24 September 2017 and will replace the current 2017 Prohibited List when it comes into force next year after a lengthy consultation process over the preceding nine months.

The key reason for the announcement (and indeed publication) of the 2018 Prohibited List some three months prior to it coming into force is to ensure that all stakeholders, athletes and other individuals working in sport have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the Prohibited List and the modifications in it. Indeed, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie has publically urged that ‘all athletes and entourage take the necessary time to consult the List’ and appealed to them to ‘contact their respecting anti-doping organisations (ADOs) if they have any doubts as to the status of a substance or method.’

Given the enhanced media spotlight on doping in sport over the previous twelve months, these comments by Sir Reedie will hopefully go some way to ensuring that education around anti-doping for athletes and their ‘entourages’ remain high on the agenda of all sports across the world.

Summary of key changes to the Prohibited List  

  • Intravenous (IV) infusions

    • Whilst the volume and timing of intravenous infusions of permitted substances will double (with the new limit being no more than 100ml in a 12 hour period), athletes ought to be aware that IV infusions and/or injections of any substance that is over the threshold of 100ml per 12-hour period are prohibited at all times.

    • This rule is caveated however, and will not include those infusions/injections which were legitimately received by the athlete in hospital treatment, surgical procedures or clinical diagnostic investigations.

    • Therapeutic Use Exemptions (“TUEs”) will be required if a prohibited substance is administered intravenously or injected, irrespective of whether this substance is more/less than the 100ml per 12 hour period limit.

  • Removal of Cannabidiol

    • This substance is no longer prohibited under the S8 Cannabinoids category of the Prohibited List. However, athletes must remain aware that synthetic cannabinoids remain prohibited.

  • Removal of Alcohol

    • One of the most significant changes is the removal of alcohol from the 2018 Prohibited List. Despite alcohol being prohibited in-competition in four sports previously, WADA have sought to remove it ‘not to compromise the integrity or safety of any sport where alcohol use is a concern, but rather to endorse a different means of enforcing bans on alcohol use in these sports’

    • The emphasis is therefore on the International Federations affected by this amendment to police it themselves by putting in place protocols to test for alcohol use and appropriately sanction athletes who do not abide by the rules of their sport.

  • Specific examples of Prohibited Substances

    • To help enhance the user-friendly nature and understanding of the Prohibited List, WADA have sought to include specific examples of what amounts to a “Prohibited Substance”. These examples provided also reflect thesubstances which were the subject of (and appeared in) anti-doping cases throughout the consultation period.

  • Revision of “Gene Doping” Definition

    • Given the medical advances in gene manipulation procedures and technologies, WADA have revised the definition of gene doping to take account of this.


Whilst the changes to the 2018 Prohibited List are not in themselves ground-breaking, the updates and amendments serve as a reminder the WADA is making a concerted effort to remain on top of the ever-changing doping landscape in sport. With an intense consultation period which encompasses the involvement of both stakeholders, scientists and athletes alike, it is refreshing to see WADA utilising the opinions and involvement from all angles of sport.

However, whilst the publication of the 2018 Prohibited List is important, the key priority is ensuring that all athletes subject to the Code and List are aware of it and take time to gain a true understanding of it. Only then can it be said that ‘clean sport’ is a realistic possibility.

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