The World Anti-Doping Agency has just released its latest Prohibited List, as yet another Russian doping scandal is potentially brewing.

The Rusian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has been accused of supplying “inconsistent data“ from its Moscow laboratory. As a consequence, Russia could be banned from next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is currently assessing and analyzing and parsing a list of detailed and technical answers from RUSADA. Once they and other independent forensic experts have gone over the data, WADA will report back to the Compliance Review Committee, who will decide whether or not to bring a formal recommendation to the Olympic Committee.

But how much is doping a part of organized sports today? And how do organizations and agencies combat the use of illicit substances?

The State of Doping Control in Sports

Doping has been a major point of discussion in the world of sports since at least the 1980s. But as public attention has increased – and as multiple beloved athletes have been caught doping and using illicit performance enhancers – agencies and larger sports organizations have tried to combat the spread of their use.

Globally, that’s been handled by the World Anti-Doping Agency, who both tests athletes and publishes a list of banned substances and exemptions.

What Does the World Anti-Doping Agency Do?

The World Anti-Doping Agency is a foundation established in 1999 under the International Olympic Committee, that ensures Olympic athletes – and professional athletes in most major sports – are regularly tested for doping. It funds scientific research, education and monitors athletes to make sure they adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, a document harmonizing anti-doping policies in all sports and countries.

The overall purpose of the organization is to combat doping in sports, so everyone participates on a fair and level playing field.

To aid this goal, they annually release a comprehensive list overall prohibited and banned substances in all major sports, the so-called WADA Prohibited List. Its main goal is to help clean athletes understand the rules and regulations set forth by WADA – and which drugs are currently banned.

The NFL and the NBA are not currently a part of WADA but follow similar guidelines and restrictions. However, WADA has previously criticized both the NBA and the HFL for gaps in their anti-doping policies and testing practices.

What’s on the prohibited list?

The WADA has just released an updated Prohibited List for 2020, alongside key reminders for athletes on which substances are currently banned, both in-competition and in general.

Russian Doping Scandal

These substances include:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Hormones and Metabolic Modulators, such as Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
  • Beta-2 Agonists such as asthma medicine, which in certain cases can be used to reduce body fat and chemically improve oxygen intake
  • Masking Agents, which can be used to hide use of other illicit drugs
  • Blood and Gene Doping
  • Stimulants (in-competition) such as amphetamine
  • Narcotics(in-competition)
  • Cannabinoids (in-competition)
  • Beta-Blockers (for certain sports)

What’s changed?

There have been two major changes in the prohibited list since last year.

Firstly, they’ve decided to combine all anabolic steroids into one category. Previously, they were classified as either exogenous (external) or endogenous (internal). WADA made the clarification “to better recognize that all anabolic agents are prohibited when administered exogenously.”

The other notable change has to do with cannabis and cannabinoids. In the last couple of years more and more countries have legalized or decriminalized the use of cannabis, both recreationally and medically. That also requires an update to their current rules.

As of 2020, cannabis containing large amounts of THC is still banned. THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis, which gives you a high and can, in some cases, be addictive. WADA, however, has decided to lift the ban on cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD oil.

While cannabidiol has been shown to help recovery in sports injuries, it is not an in-competition performance enhancer. However, the WADA still cautions using larger amounts of CBD oils, as they tend to contain a trace amount of THC.

The WADA, therefore, has shown a more relaxed attitude towards cannabis and CBD than the NFL or the NBA, which still perform four random drug screens a year, which can result in severe consequences for the players.