The list of prohibited drugs, issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency, allows, by their classification into large families, to better understand what are the effects of the targeted products and the health risks they cause.

Permanently banned substances

Non-approved substances

Any substance not included in the Prohibited List that is not currently approved for therapeutic use in humans by a government health regulatory authority (e.g. clinical trials) is permanently banned.

Anabolic agents

These substances are divided into two groups

I- exogenous or endogenous anabolic androgenic (AA) steroids

This group mainly includes steroid hormones, such as testosterone, the male hormone, whose action is similar to this one. These are synthetic androgen products (administered exogenously) or created naturally by the body (endogenous).

II - Other anabolic agents

This category includes products such as beta-2 agonists, having, as the name suggests, anabolic properties on the muscles. Anabolism is the property of metabolism to quickly convert nutrients into living tissue.

Their effects

Primary Effects:

The administration of anabolics promotes the production of proteins by the body. They decrease the time required for tissue regeneration and lower the proportion of fat in the body. In return, they act on the male characteristics of the body.

Side effects :


Anabolics are the cause of irreversible physical changes. They are also responsible for cardiovascular and hepatic disorders, disturbances in lipid metabolism and water retention in tissues.

Among the disorders and conditions are arteriosclerosis, stroke, myocardial infarction, severe liver disease and liver cancer.

Less serious but notable, the reduction in the elimination of sodium that anabolics cause increases water retention and thereby causes weight gain.

Note that taking anabolics is accompanied, to counteract these harmful effects, is often associated with the taking of other products, such as diuretics, which also have side effects.


The psychological effects of taking anabolics are quite varied. They can cause positive changes in psychological state (increased motivation to perform and euphoria) or negative (increased irritability, frequent mood swings and aggressiveness, dependence, depression when stopping the intake) . These psychological side effects can also pose problems for those around the individual consuming anabolics.

"Human-specific" side effects

Anabolic agents have effects specifically affecting men and act on virility (testicular atrophy accompanied by a decrease in sperm production). Decreased libido, problems with impotence and even infertility can also occur.

Physical appearance: Risk of acne appearance, but anabolic drugs can also have feminizing effects on the body (gynecomastia).

Growth: In adolescents, taking anabolic can cause growth to stop prematurely

"Woman-specific" side effects

Anabolic agents have virilizing effects on femininity in women, the symptoms of which are development of male stature and male facial features, acne, appearance of beard, deeper voice due to enlargement of the larynx, menstrual disturbances and clitoral hypertrophy (irreversible).

The breasts may develop breast involution due to the sudden change in the distribution of fatty tissue, and the risk of developing breast cancer increases. Other unwanted side effects are the formation of cysts and deformities in the uterus.

Sports disciplines concerned

As anabolics stimulate muscle growth, their use is particularly widespread in sports disciplines where strength, force-speed or muscle mass play a decisive role in competition. As they additionally shorten the regeneration time, they are also of interest for endurance athletes who are trying to better control their training volume by taking anabolics. Unlike strength sports, anabolics are only used in very low doses to prevent excessive muscle mass growth from having negative effects on their athletic performance.

Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors and Related Substances



Erythropoietin is a hormone produced naturally by the kidney which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

It is mainly used in the treatment of anemia (lack of red blood cells), especially in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Effects of EPO

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone produced by the kidneys. A lack of oxygen in the body (eg stays at altitude) triggers the natural production of EPO. EPO is distributed throughout the body through the bloodstream and stimulates the transformation of stem cells in the bone marrow into red blood cells.

Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues (eg muscles). In addition, they also perform an important function in the removal of carbon dioxide from the muscles. Thus, an increased number of red blood cells induces an improvement in endurance in sport and a faster recovery of strength.

Side effects

Taking EPO on a regular basis can have dramatic consequences. The obstruction of the blood vessels due to the viscosity of the blood (thrombosis, myocardial infarction, strokes) and cardiac arrests are among the first of them.

Sports disciplines concerned

By increasing the number of red blood cells in the blood, EPO also increases the amount of oxygen delivered to muscles and the amount of carbon dioxide released from them. The muscle tires less quickly and endurance is improved. EPO is used especially in endurance disciplines. Its use is particularly widespread in cycling, at least in the public mind, as well as in disciplines such as cross-country skiing, biathlon, marathon, speed skating and triathlon. With EPO we try to improve regeneration after intensive training sessions and competitions, which means that practically all athletes of all sports disciplines are affected by the risks of excessive use of EPO. Thus, the existence of doping cases has been proven in boxing, weightlifting, football and even horse racing.




Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is an endogenous peptide hormone. By stimulating the division and growth of cells, it has an anabolic effect (promoting muscle development). HGH is used medicinally to treat dwarfism, which is caused by insufficient secretion of this hormone produced by the pituitary gland.

Effects of HGH

Direct action: HGH acts directly on blood sugar (blood glucose level) and stimulates lipid degradation (fat burning).

Indirect action: HGH acts indirectly on the liver, where it stimulates the production of the IGF-1 protein (English: Insulin-like Growth Factor - IGF, insulin-like growth factor) by binding to receptors specific to somatotropin (synonym of HGH). IGF-1 released into the bloodstream binds to IGF-1 receptors found in almost all tissues, and regulates the expression (formation) of a multitude of other proteins. In this way, HGH stimulates cell division and growth and develops its anabolic (promoting tissue growth) and regenerative activities. In adolescents, it stimulates the growth of long bones.

Side effects

Abnormal growth of organs (heart, liver, etc.), but also disproportionate irreversible growth of the hands and feet as well as of the chin, nose and ears (acromegaly); bone hypertrophy; hypertension and heart failure (from enlarged heart); diabetes (by deregulation of glucose metabolism).

Sports disciplines concerned

Their use is known in cycling, athletics, cross-country skiing and weightlifting during the Paralympics. It is discussed in swimming and in various team sports. HGH doping is particularly prevalent among bodybuilding professionals, who serve as role models for many fitness enthusiasts. It is because of these effects, but also its easy access on the Internet, that HGH made its entry into mainstream sport.

Beta-2 agonists


Beta-2 agonists are used in the treatment of asthma for their bronchodilator properties, helping to improve breathing. They can be administered orally or by inhalation. In large doses, they also stimulate muscle growth. The best-known representatives of this class of substances are clenbuterol, formoterol and salbutamol.

Effects of beta-2 agonists

Inhaled beta-2 agonists primarily act on the smooth muscles of the bronchi. By stimulating beta-2 adrenergic receptors in the bronchi, they dilate the bronchial muscles

In high doses, they stimulate protein synthesis and have an anabolic effect on muscles and a catabolic (degrading) effect on fats. For this reason, some athletes consider them as an alternative to anabolic steroids.

Side effects

- Excessive sweating,

- uncontrollable muscle tremors;

- Palpitations.

In addition, they represent a real danger for the heart. Indeed, the increase in oxygen consumption during the acceleration of the heart rate can lead to an insufficient supply of cardiac muscle cells, resulting in chest pain due to poor circulation of the heart (angina pectoris).

They can also be the cause of heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmia) following a lowering of the plasma potassium concentration (hypokalaemia).

And finally, they can also be the cause of hyperglycemia (increase in the level of glucose in the blood) following the stimulation of glycogenolysis in the liver.

Sports disciplines concerned

Beta-2 agonists are used mainly in endurance sports (cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, athletics, etc.) and in all sports disciplines where a significant supply of oxygen is required, since these substances allow the transport , in the short term, more oxygen in the lungs.

Due to their anabolic action (stimulation of growth) on muscles and their catabolic action (stimulation of breakdown) on fats, they are particularly appreciated by bodybuilders as an alternative to anabolic steroids without the negative androgenic side effects of these. last.

Hormonal and metabolic modulators


The substances in this class influence the effects of hormones or disrupt certain enzymatic reactions.

Hormonal and metabolic modulators are substances that:

- influence hormones and therefore their action;

- act on the metabolism.

* Anti-estrogens can prevent the transformation of the male sex hormone testosterone into the female sex hormone estrogen.

* Myostatin inhibitors act on the endogenous production (formed in the human body) of myostatin. This protein acts to limit muscle growth to prevent uncontrolled muscle development.

* Metabolic modulators contain:

- insulin
- receptor δ agonists activated by peroxisome proliferators (PPARδ) (eg GW1516) and agonists of the PPARδ-AMP-activated protein kinase axis (AMPK) (eg AICAR),

Effects of hormone and metabolic modulators

The use of anti-estrogens in sports is not primarily intended to increase performance, but rather to suppress the unwanted side effects of anabolic abuse.

In men, anabolic steroids are partly converted into estrogen (female sex hormone). Thus, the rise in estrogen levels due to the intake of anabolics can lead to abnormal development of the mammary glands (gynecomastia) in men. Antiestrogens can counteract the conversion of anabolics into estrogen or inhibit the growth stimulation exerted on cells by estrogen.

In women, in medical therapy, anti-estrogens, such as tamoxifen or anastrozol, are administered as part of treatment for breast cancer as well as other hormone-dependent tumors. Raloxifene is used in the treatment of osteoporosis (loss of bone mass / density) and clomiphene for the stimulation of ovulation. Anti-estrogens also stimulate, to a lesser extent, the increased release of testosterone, which in turn promotes the growth of muscle mass.

* Myostatin inhibitors are used for their inhibiting action on the natural regulatory function of myostatin, which therefore leads to an excessive increase in muscle mass.

* In pharmaceutical research on metabolic modulators, agents such as AICAR and GW1516 show extraordinary properties to increase endurance performance. Both substances have an influence on PPAR delta, a receptor particularly present in adipose tissue and which plays an important role in the body's energy balance.

Side effects

Antiestrogens have a wide range of nonspecific side effects. The risk of side effects differs from substance to substance and includes, but is not limited to:

- Hot flashes;
- Tired;
- Rashes ;
- vaginal bleeding;
- Abdominal pain;
- Nausea;
- Headache ;
- Vision disturbances;
- High risk of thrombosis (sometimes).
- Taking hormone and metabolic modulators additionally interferes with the endocrine system (glandular system) of the body, thus increasing the potential risk of certain serious diseases.

Sports disciplines concerned

Hormones with anti-estrogenic action and metabolic modulators are used to prevent unwanted side effects of anabolic steroids.

Their abusive use is therefore observed in sports disciplines where the use of anabolics is the most common. Strength and combat sports, such as weightlifting and boxing, but also endurance disciplines, such as cycling and cross-country skiing, are therefore particularly concerned.

The most widespread abuse is found in the world of bodybuilding, since this is also where the intake of high-dose anabolics is most common.




Insulin is an endogenous peptide hormone produced in the pancreas in cells grouped together in small clusters, called "islands of Langerhans".

Effects of insulin

Insulin promotes glucose uptake by cells (mainly in the liver and muscles) and glycogen synthesis, all resulting in a drop in blood sugar.

This hormone also inhibits the breakdown of fat, increases the uptake of amino acids that regulate metabolism and growth processes in the body, protect the body from diseases and toxins, and stimulate cell division and growth.

Side effects

Insulin doping can be fatal.

An overdose of synthetic insulin is manifested by:

- palpitations;
- agitation;
- tremors;
- diabetes (misuse).

A sharp drop in blood sugar combined with insufficient energy supply to the nervous system can lead to serious brain damage, often fatal.

Sports disciplines concerned

Insulin abuse is particularly prevalent in strength sports circles, often alongside anabolic steroids and growth hormones. The latter two stimulate the development of muscle mass, while insulin prevents its loss. The growth hormone somatotropin also reduces the uptake of glucose by muscle cells, an action compensated by insulin.

The use of synthetic insulin is also very common among endurance athletes. By increasing the storage of glycogen in muscles, synthetic insulin promotes endurance, strength and performance.

Diuretics and other masking agents


Masking agents (such as diuretics) are used to distort doping test results and to hide the intake of other prohibited doping substances.

In medicine, diuretics are used in the treatment of edema, high blood pressure and heart failure.

Effects of diuretics

By acting on renal function, diuretics influence the water-electrolyte balance (potassium, sodium and phosphorus).

They massively increase the excretion of water, thus decreasing body weight and diluting urine. For example, furosemide, a diuretic, causes the elimination of nearly two liters of water over the course of three hours after taking it.

Side effects

The use of diuretics causes effects that are reflected in different systems:

*Cardiovascular system

Diuretics remove considerable amounts of water and mineral salts from the body. They thus disrupt the fluid and electrolyte balance of the body, which can lead to:

- acute drops in voltage;

- Heart rhythm disorders;

- cardiovascular collapse.

- the risk of thrombosis is also increased due to the thickening of the blood.

* Gastrointestinal system and kidneys

The misuse of diuretics can also have harmful effects on the gastrointestinal system and the kidneys.

* Muscles

The dehydrating effect of diuretics and the loss of electrolytes can cause painful muscle cramps.

Sports disciplines concerned

The masking effect generated by the excessive use of diuretics and other masking agents concerns all sports disciplines.

Diuretics are used for weight reduction in sports where there are weight classes (boxing, wrestling, judo, weightlifting, etc.).

They are also popular in sports where reduced weight is an advantage in terms of performance.

The use of diuretics is very common in bodybuilding, where they are called "water pills". They are used to eliminate as much water as possible before competition, in order to improve muscle definition.

Methods permanently prohibited

Handling of blood or blood components

The list of doping products contains not only prohibited substances but also prohibited methods. The manipulation of blood and blood components as well as the supply of synthetic blood products (eg perfluorocarbon emulsions), are among these prohibited methods which improve the body's oxygen supply.

The improvement of endurance capacity by the supply of allogenic blood was first described in 1947. This method aimed to improve the performance of athletes exposed to oxygen depletion at high altitude. This process entered the sport in the 1980s and has been officially banned since 1985.


In the 1990s, blood doping was eclipsed by erythropoietin (EPO) doping. EPO doping produces comparable results, but it is less complicated and poses fewer health risks. Since 2000, since synthetic EPO can be detected in urine, blood doping has experienced a marked resurgence of interest. While it is easy to prove the use of blood doping based on allogeneic blood (blood from a third party), there is still no direct method for detecting blood autotransfusions. This is why in endurance sports at risk one establishes more and more long-term blood profiles (biological passport of the athlete) which can give information in the event of manipulation of the blood.


Blood doping is the taking of blood from the athlete a few weeks before the competition. Red blood cells (erythrocytes) are isolated from the blood collected and stored under refrigerated conditions. The body responds to this blood loss by the accelerated formation of new erythrocytes. Shortly before or during the competition, the red blood cells collected and stored are reinjected (transfused) again. Thus, the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells is increased, thus improving the oxygenation of the muscles and therefore endurance performance.

When blood doping with allogeneic blood, a concentrate of red blood cells (erythrocyte concentrate) from a donor is infused, as is the case with blood transfusion in anemic patients. Instead of conventional blood transfusions, synthetic products can also be used. These molecules cause an increase in the uptake, transport or release of oxygen in the body, depending on the type of molecule.


Blood doping improves endurance capacity and therefore finds its field of application in classic endurance sports (eg cycling, cross-country skiing, etc.)

Direct detection of doping based on allogeneic blood

The direct detection of doping based on allogeneic blood is now easy.

Indirect detection of doping based on autologous blood

Since there is as yet no direct detection method for doping based on autologous blood, most cases of autotransfusion are discovered during police investigations or confessions by athletes. In addition, in high-risk sports disciplines, long-term blood profiles (athlete's biological passport) are increasingly established which can provide information in the event of blood manipulation.


Too high a hematocrit level is a real danger. Blood doping and the administration of synthetic EPO increase the number of red blood cells and therefore the hematocrit level. Such an increase in the hematocrit, whether abnormal or natural, by dehydration (lack of water), for example, reaching a value of 60% or more, represents a serious danger to health.

Indeed, this increase in the number of circulating red blood cells leads to a significant decrease in the fluidity of the blood, leading in particular to an increase in the risk of thrombosis (formation of blood clots) and embolism (obstruction of a vessel by a blood clot). blood) with the risk of fatal outcome.

Inappropriate handling of canned blood

There are several documented cases of athletes who have exposed themselves to serious risks to their health as a result of improper handling during the collection, storage, transport or transfusion of doped blood which can lead to potentially fatal sepsis. Other complications can arise from doping with allogeneic blood. Pathogens such as hepatitis or AIDS viruses can be transmitted during blood transfusion. This can also trigger a reaction of incompatibility with allogenic blood, resulting in anaphylactic shock (allergic), or even a fatal state of shock.

Chemical and physical manipulation

Physical and chemical manipulation is the act of using substances or methods to modify a urine sample.

Adverse effects and consequences of blood doping

Physical and chemical manipulation is the last category of doping in terms of frequency of use and represents only a very small percentage of positive results worldwide (<0,1%). Physical manipulation is generally preferred over chemical manipulation.

Doping tests attempt to screen for masking agents and analyze a variety of physical and chemical properties of urine to detect any signs of manipulation of the sample.


Chemical and physical manipulation is the use of substances and processes which modify, attempt to modify or reasonably threaten to modify the integrity and validity of Samples used in doping controls. These substances and methods include, among others, catheterization, substitution or alteration of samples, but also intravenous infusions and / or injections of more than 50 ml per period of 6 hours (with the exception of those legitimately received in the during hospital admission or during clinical examinations).


The side effects of physical and chemical manipulation of the urine sample are limited and depend on the type of manipulation. Many of the methods used to handle urine samples have harmful side effects.

For example:

Catheterization can lead to cystitis caused by infection of the bladder and inflammation of the lower urinary tract.

Urine replacement can also lead to various infections.

Genetic doping

The difference between genetic doping and classical doping methods lies in the fact that the body's supply of doping substances (eg: anabolics, hormones or blood) is replaced by the supply of genetic material. In the context of genetic doping, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits, because of their potentially doping effect, the following practices:

The transfer of nucleic acids or their analogues.

The use of genetically modified cells or not.

It is a genetic material capable of directly influencing muscle growth, fat catabolism or the production of corresponding hormones in the body. Thus, genetic doping could, in the future, supplement or even render superfluous conventional doping methods, since it turns the body into its own doping factory. But this is precisely the origin of the enormous danger generated by gene doping, because once started the processes are irreversible.


Each human being carries genes that determine his ability to exercise a particular activity. Thus, in sport, some are, from an early age, faster than others, stronger, taller or more skillful in terms of psychomotor coordination. It's all in the genes. Nevertheless, the final formation of an individual's genotype (character, preferences, physical characteristics, etc.) is also determined by the influence of his environment.

Science is gaining ground

Science continues to discover new genes important for physical performance (e.g. genes determining the structure of muscle fibers, synthesizing growth factors or hormones such as the hormone responsible for blood formation (Epo), regulating blood energy balance of the organism,…).


A gene is a unit of information for a specific characteristic of the body. Hereditary information houses, so to speak, the "architectural plan" of a living being. It is memorized chemically and is present in the nucleus of every cell.

Deoxyribonucleic acid - DNA

The building block of genes is called “deoxyribonucleic acid” (DNA). DNA is a very long, threadlike molecule. To prevent it from tangling during cell division, it wraps around its own axis and forms what are called chromosomes.

The chromosomes are visible under a microscope. The human being has 46, of which 23 come from the father and 23 from the mother. The structure of DNA resembles a rope ladder with two strands of filaments linked together by rungs, twisted like a spiral staircase. The rungs of this ladder are made up of four molecules called: Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine. They are generally designated by their abbreviations: A, T, G and C. Associated two by two, they form a base pair which then represents a rung of the rope ladder. All the genetic information of a living being is thus encoded in the almost infinite succession of these four letters: this is called the genome. Human beings have about 10 billion such base pairs. We could say that the genome is the book of life written only using four letters but, on the other hand, having 10 billion characters.

The information in the genome must be transformed into a genetic product capable of performing a function in the body. This transformation of genetic information, allowing it to be used by the cell, is called gene expression. The two major steps in gene expression are the transcription of DNA into ribonucleic acid (RNA) and then the translation of RNA into proteins. The latter process takes place in the cytoplasm and involves synthesizing proteins based on the genetic information copied into messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules.

Proteins take on very diverse functions in the body, they represent real molecular machines. They transport the intermediate products of human metabolism, they ensure the "pumping" of ions, play a role of catalyst of chemical reactions, can pick up signals or act as hormones.


The aim of medical research is not to develop genetic methods for the purpose of gene doping in sport, but to use them to cure hereditary diseases with the help of gene therapy. Indeed, many diseases are of genetic origin (eg immunodeficiency, muscular dystrophy….). The idea of ​​gene therapy is to cure such diseases at the genetic level by replacing faulty or missing genes with healthy copies of those genes.


Basically, gene doping can be done by two different methods:

- By the transfer of genes in the athlete's body

- By influencing their own genes.

Genetic doping by gene transfer

It is not as easy to fill a syringe with genes as it is with anabolics or EPO. The transfer of genes from one person to another can only be done using a vector. Genetically modified viruses are used for this purpose, which can be injected into the athlete directly through the blood. Another method is to take cells eg. of the athlete's bone marrow, containing the hematopoietic system, and to bring them into contact with viruses outside the body, before reintroducing them into the athlete's body.

Viruses as carriers of "sports genes"

Viruses are not considered to be living beings: they are formed only of an envelope which contains a certain amount of hereditary substance. Viruses are incapable of reproducing on their own, but they are very clever: with the help of special detection systems, they are able to find their target in an infected organism, for example blood or muscle cells. This is where they pass their own hereditary substance inside the target cell. Then, the hereditary substance of the virus reprograms the target cell. From this moment, this cell obeys the commands of the virus. So, if genetically modified viruses transfer “sport genes” instead of diseased genes, they do not weaken their prey, but give it strength, endurance or speed.


Genetic expression can also be influenced from the outside. That is, endogenous genes can be turned on or off, or their effect can be enhanced or inhibited.

This is possible in two ways:

- using small genetic elements;

- by the influence of certain drugs.

These two methods have the common feature - unlike gene transfer - of not placing exogenous genes in the genetic heritage (genome) of the individual.

Doping by genetic influence:

Instead of modifying gene expression, it is possible to render mRNA inoperative by integrating tiny RNA elements synthesized by genetic engineering (siRNAs or small interfering RNAs) and perfectly adapted to the desired gene. Such an element clings to mRNA before it is translated. The body perceives the artificial and natural RNA product as a foreign body and destroys it. This is how the interruption of the translation of a gene into its product works, a method known in scientific circles as “RNA interference”. All over the world, efforts are currently being made to develop, in this way, treatments for a wide variety of diseases: for example viral infections such as AIDS, hepatitis or even cancer.

Drug-induced doping

Until 2011, all substances directly or indirectly modifying gene expression were considered as means of gene doping. In the current prohibited list, such substances have the more correct name of metabolism modulators and are assigned to the class of substances “S4 Hormonal and metabolic modulators”.


Genetic doping presents multiple risks.

Risks during production, when a gene therapy method, still in development, is produced in a “clandestine laboratory” and illegally applied for doping purposes.

Gene vectors

For gene therapy, genes are carried by viruses. Although these viruses are previously modified so that they are no longer infectious, viruses in general, even in the neutralized state, still present a certain residual risk as a pathogen.

The environment

The risk is much higher in the illegal production of substances used for gene transfer than in the development of medical gene therapy. It is in fact possible to envisage the use of only partially neutralized viruses, of contaminated preparations or of infected instruments.

Risks during transfer

Even properly inactivated viruses remain foreign bodies in the patient's body that must be fought off by the immune system. The consequences generated by the activation of the immune system in the face of these proteins produced by injected genes are much more serious, which can cause allergic reactions up to a fatal allergic shock.

Genetic risk

When a gene is administered to a patient as part of gene therapy, it is not possible to determine exactly where the gene will fit into the genome. This could have fatal consequences. It is indeed possible that neighboring genetic sequences cause an undesirable or unpredictable reaction with the new introduced gene. All the possible effects of gene therapy are far from known.


According to the current level of knowledge, modifications of genetic material by gene doping cannot be completely undone. While in conventional doping many side effects diminish after stopping doping, the effect of gene doping and its side effects is long lasting.

It is not yet possible today to be certain about the feared side effects of gene doping - we can only imagine scenarios like the following: a growth factor such as IGF-1 promotes the growth of genes. muscle cells, but could also stimulate the development of tumor cells. As a result, an isolated altered cell which, under normal circumstances, would be eliminated by the control mechanisms of our body, would quickly become a tumor.


The detection of genetic doping is particularly difficult because the product of the injected gene does not differ from that of the endogenous gene (therefore created by the organism). It would be easier to directly prove the presence of genes injected into a tissue sample. This would require removing a small piece of muscle from the athlete and testing it for the possible presence of exogenous DNA. However, taking tissue samples is a significant invasive procedure for the athlete and is not provided for in the World Anti-Doping Code. Therefore, the method of detecting gene doping by tissue sampling is excluded as a standard method.

However, the first methods have been developed or are still in the development phase in order to detect genetic doping.

It is true that the products made by the artificially introduced genes and the natural genes are indistinguishable, but the genes themselves are not completely identical. DNA produced by genetic engineering is always shorter than its natural model. This is because natural DNA always contains sequences that do not serve directly for encoding the gene product, thus allowing investigators to distinguish natural DNA from artificial DNA. Here is a technique that works well and the first experimental doping tests have already been carried out.

The doping genes becoming active in the body, cause changes in the metabolism of the tissues. This altered activity could be proven using imaging techniques.

A similar method is to look for gene activity in unusual tissues. The sudden production of EPO in the muscle cells instead of the kidneys of an athlete would be highly suspect. It is very likely that one can assume that an EPO gene implantation has taken place at this location.

We could also look for the constituent elements of the vector genome. A few tiny components of the virus's envelope are preserved upon entry into the host cell - and these components are detectable.

Substances and methods prohibited in competition

In addition to the substances and methods mentioned above, the following items are prohibited in competition:



Stimulants induce an increase in physical and intellectual activity. They eliminate the feeling of fatigue, increase performance capabilities and improve morale. But the danger of addiction is great. Illegal drugs like cocaine and ecstasy are among the stimulants.

Effects of stimulants

The chemical structure of typical stimulants, such as amphetamine or ephedrine, resembles that of endogenous stress hormones (adrenaline and norepinephrine, produced by the adrenal medulla). Their effects on the body are also similar. By increasing, speeding up or enhancing nerve activity, they stimulate and mimic the effects of the sympathetic nervous system which controls the tone of the vessels and the functioning of the glands.

Thus, they improve the capacities of concentration and attention, strengthen self-confidence and eliminate fatigue. By dilating the bronchi (improving oxygen uptake) and increasing strength and heart rate (better oxygen transport), stimulants allow the body to perform even more vigorously.

Side effects and consequences of overuse of stimulants

Stimulants work at different levels:

* Nervous system and brain

Stimulants act on the nervous system. They do not provide a direct energy supply but are limited to stimulating the release of energy in the body.

Rising body temperature and suppressing feelings of hunger and thirst can easily lead to severe dehydration in the body.

The doping effects of stimulants (taken in high doses) can be manifested by:

- nervous agitation;
- hyperexcitation;
- excessive aggressiveness;
- persistent insomnia;
- anxiety;
- paranoia;
- depression.

The risk of dependence on this type of substance is very high.

In addition, by delaying feelings of exhaustion, stimulants help the body mobilize reserves protected by the autonomic neurovegetative system, which can lead to a state of total exhaustion and, in extreme cases, death. .

* Cardiovascular system and respiration

Stimulants are particularly harmful to the cardiovascular system.

By constricting the blood vessels, they cause an increase in blood pressure and a rise in body temperature.

This is life-threatening and can lead to a myocardial infarction.

Other possible consequences:

- heart rhythm disturbances;
- convulsive seizures;
- cardiovascular collapse.

Combined with a sporting activity, taking them can lead to respiratory arrest.

Sports disciplines concerned

Stimulants are mainly used during competition, as they improve concentration, reduce fatigue and mobilize the reserves protected by the neurovegetative (autonomic) system, that is to say, the reserves that the body only used as a last resort, for example to maintain vital functions such as breathing, brain and cardiovascular system.

The use of stimulants is most common in endurance and strength-speed sports, but it is also observed in combat sports such as boxing.

They can, in principle, increase performance in all types of sport.



Narcotics banned in sport are strong analgesics belonging to the opioid family, used to fight against very severe pain.

Effects of narcotics

Narcotics act, first of all, on the central nervous system, like their endogenous equivalents, the endorphins secreted by the hypothalamus (central region of the diencephalon located at the base of the brain) and the pituitary gland.

They bind to specific opioid receptors on the surface of nerve cells, induce various processes in the cell, influence ion channels and finally reduce the release of transmitters.

Thus, they suppress the conduction of pain and reduce the sensitivity to pain.

Side effects

Narcotics present a very high risk of dependence and are the cause of serious physical and psychological dependence.

- Decreased concentration and coordination capacity;
- Reduction of intellectual activity and limitation of thinking capacity;
- The development of tolerance towards the product consumed (that is to say a reaction of habituation of the body) leads to an increase in the doses and the frequency of the intakes to achieve the same effects. These phenomena are associated with convulsive attacks, nausea; dizziness, headache.
- Excessive consumption of this type of substance can also lead to psychological consequences with disturbances of consciousness, a state of apathy, loss of self-confidence, depression, paranoid states and psychosis.

Overdose, on the other hand, can lead to fatal respiratory paralysis leading to a drop in oxygen supply and cardiovascular collapse.

Sports disciplines concerned

Narcotics are competitive drugs used in painful sports such as combat sports to relieve pain.



Cannabinoids are natural substances extracted from Indian hemp (Cannabis sativa) and synthetic analogues (similar substances made artificially). The most potent active substance is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Effects of cannabinoids

Cannabinoids work primarily through type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1).

These are mainly found on the nerve cells of the central nervous system. The regions of the brain containing the most CB1 receptors play an important role in memory (hippocampus and cerebellum) as well as in the regulation of motor skills (basal ganglia and cerebellum).

They decrease the excitability of the brain and activate the dopaminergic reward system. The release of the neurotransmitter dopamine is activated and induces an effect of pleasant sensations of well-being and personal development.

Side effects

Cannabinoids work primarily on the brain and can have multiple side effects.

Short term effects:

Loss of motivation on the physical level;

Perception and short-term memory disorders.

Taken in high doses:

Psychotic attacks;

States of agitation;

Panic and disorientation reactions.

Chronic cannabis use can induce:

Attention and learning disorders;

Loss of memory as well as changes in the structure of the personality;

Psychic dependence,

Psychotic attacks.

Sports disciplines concerned

Cannabinoids can alleviate tension and excitement before competition, causing the athlete to take more risks, which in certain conditions can have a stimulating effect on their performance.

However, in most sports disciplines, undesirable effects, such as reduced reaction capacity, coordination problems and loss of motivation, clearly predominate. It is particularly prevalent in team sports.



Glucocorticoids are part of corticosteroids, a class of steroid hormones made and secreted by the adrenal cortex.

Due to their analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, glucocorticoids are used for doping purposes.

Effects of glucocorticoids

Glucocorticoids have a stimulating effect on glucose synthesis. They promote the catabolism of protein and fat deposits, which are then used for energy production.

Glucocorticoids have an anti-inflammatory and analgesic action, they reduce feelings of physical fatigue and have slightly euphoric effects.

Side effects

Glucocorticoids work on different areas of the body, which explains their many side effects.

Weakening of tendons and muscles: risk of rupture and strain;

Weakening of the bones (calcium leakage); risk of stress fracture;

Decreased immune defenses;

Side effects of chronic abuse include:

- Diabetes;
- increased risk of stomach ulcer;
- abdominal obesity;
- eye diseases;
- growth disorders;
- psychic modifications.

Sports disciplines concerned

In general, we can say that the misuse of glucocorticoids concerns all sports.

Their doping effects are particularly sought after in endurance sports where you have to resist pain and fatigue while making the most of your own energy reserves. Their anti-inflammatory action is appreciated in the most diverse sports.

In some sports the Alcohol and beta-blockers may also be prohibited.