At a high level of the international cycling union UCI there was again a discussion to prohibit the still frequent use of the heavy painkiller Tramadol in cycling.
Six years of action has been going on by riders, team doctors and some team managers to get the drug on the doping list of WADA. This fails for unknown reasons; the ethics committee of the UCI is considering making a deal with WADA to prohibit in cycling Tramadol anyway.
The figures WADA keeps are ominous. In 2014 in 5.4% of all urine samples from cyclists traces of tramadol were found. Although the 2015 figures have not yet been officially announced, it is unlikely that these are lower. “A rate of over five percent is really super high. There is no doping agent that is found in one sport at such a high rate”, says Peter Van Eenoo, director of the WADA lab in Ghent.
If you know that over 50% of all positive controls on Tramadol come from from cyclists; “Then you can say that it really is a problem of cycling. Given the frequent use and the nasty side effects it clearly belongs on the doping list.”
During a UCI meeting in Geneva the problem of Tramadol was again on the agenda. For over ten years, it has been known that cycling has a problem with this painkiller. And since six years Tramadol is well monitored by WADA, but it is still not on the banned list. Despite the pressure on WADA from cycling itself, to prohibit the agent. It would be Interesting to hear the motives of WADA why they don’t put Tramadol on the list. WADA is probably not pleased with this kind of advice from the sport and in response, they abuse their power by monitoring the drug for years and do not prohibit it. Notice the difference how WADA acted with Meldonium that does not promote the performance and which has no dangerous side effects. Meldonium was being monitored for only one year before it was placed on the banned list. With all the consequences for the Russian sport and Russian athletes. The fact that Meldonium was later taken off the prohibited list indicates nevertheless that WADA has failed completely. But an apology from the authoritarian, autistic club I’ve never heard.
Of course, Russia is a mafia state with Putin as chief executive, where doping is controlled by the State. But that gives WADA, the world anti-doping organization, not the right to use mafia methods too, to teach the Russians a lesson.
Tramadol is used regularly in cycling races in a so-called final tube. The riders take this medicine to ease the pain and discomfort after 200 kilometers of racing. And Tramadol does indeed ease the pain, moreover a more heavy gear can easily be kicked. In this way, it clearly has a performance-enhancing effect. But there are nasty side effects. Tramadol could adversely affect the ability to ride due to reduced responsiveness. This side effect of Tramadol is probably one of the reasons for the increased number of crashes. Furthermore, it is known to have an addictive effect. In recent years present day’s professionals were in detoxification programs from their Tramadol addiction.
The use of Tramadol in team Sky was commonplace in the past. Former rider Michael Barry said so two years ago in The New York Times. The Canadian rode between 2010 and 2012 for the British formation. He used it for himself and saw his teammates use the drug frequently.
Barry: “I have seen Sky riders use it several times in races. The effects are quickly noticeable. By Tramadol I felt euphoric. The pain disappears in your legs and you can therefore kick harder. When I crashed in the Tour I used it, but I stopped after four days. It ensures that you can go beyond your limit.”
Doping expert Douwe de Boer is careful with regard to the implementation of Tramadol in the procedure of doping controls. “It’s a piece of cake to put this product on the banned list, it is also quite easy to detect it. However, this should not lead to the use of other painkillers. Then you just move the problem. “
This is not a valid argument of Douwe de Boer. It would mean that Tramadol should not be placed on the banned list because athletes then grab for different ways. But this mechanism is typical for doping. The doping hunters discover a method by which a drug or a method cannot be used anymore. With the result that the athletes switch to other drugs or methods. The most obvious example occurred in the fight against EPO. From the moment it became more risky to use EPO the athletes switched to blood transfusions.