Olympic bronze medallist Laura Deas has urged fellow athletes to be vigilant when it comes to the upcoming tramadol ban.
Tramadol, a strong painkiller to treat severe pain, will be banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from 1 January 2024.
Ex-England rugby union star Danny Cipriani and former goalkeeper Chris Kirkland are among high-profile athletes who have raised awareness of the dangers of addiction to the substance.
Skeleton slider Deas, a member of the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Athlete Commission, wants to raise awareness of the ban amid concerns of its widespread use and availability, especially at lower levels of sport.
“Danny and Chris are just two examples on how tramadol addiction can affect people’s lives,” said Deas. “It can be a dangerous substance and addiction is something to be very wary of.
“I would encourage anyone who’s in that situation to get help or look for alternatives before this ban comes into force on 1 January.
“Substances can stay in your system for different lengths of time and it’s not always clear how long that is, it can be different from person to person.
“As athletes, we are 100% responsible for what’s in our body and what’s found there if we are tested. It’s really important to make sure of this because if it’s found in your system, you could be banned.”
Deas is passionate about clean sport having competed at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, now marred by widespread doping.
WADA’s Prohibited List, which indicates what substances and methods are prohibited in sport and when, is updated at least annually and Deas underlined the importance of information and communication when it comes to anti-doping compliance.
“I think it’s really important that athletes educate themselves on the Prohibited List,” said Deas. “A substance that you’ve relied on for a long time could come onto that list.
“We are responsible for being compliant with that list but we’re not alone, use your support network and medical team to stay informed. If you’re part of a team sport, talk to your team-mates about it and make sure you’re staying clean.”
Several elite athletes need tramadol to deal with pain effectively, particularly Paralympians.
Deas and UKAD want to support those athletes to do so in a legal way with minimal risks, with those who need to use it for therapeutic purposes in-competition requiring a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
“UKAD has a really good new tool called the TUE Wizard which helps athletes understand the process for applying,” she said.
“That tool is a great way of understanding what can be a complicated and stressful process and we don’t have to do it alone; your support network can help you make sure you’re doing what you need to do.”
Act now on tramadol ban. UK Anti-Doping Athlete Commission call to athletes to stay aware of the impending ban on tramadol.