The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been criticised for its perceived lack of action in banning Tramadol and coriticosteroids in a damning open letter from the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC).
In the letter from MPCC president Roger Legeay to WADA director general Oliver Niggli, the MPCC repeats the phrase “what are you waiting for?!” no fewer five times as it criticises WADA’s “wait and see” approach to Tramadol and corticosteroids.
“Since the creation of the MPCC, we have been warning continuously your agency regarding the issues of corticosteroids and we have been advising the prohibition of Tramadol since 2013,” the letter reads.
“Ever since, we have faced those same answers that seem to be the political will included in the phrase: ‘wait and see’.
“Indeed, your answers never change: ‘we are setting up a commission’, ‘we will make the working group aware of that’, we keep on monitoring’….”
Under current rules, there is nothing to prevent riders from using Tramadol, a powerful painkiller, during races despite side effects including drowsiness, dizziness, and vertigo, and the drug being blamed for causing crashes.
Corticosteroids, on the other hand are banned for use in-competition, unless the rider has therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to allow them to use them to treat a medical condition.
However under MPCC rules, which are voluntarily adhered to by seven WorldTour teams, 19 Professional Continental teams, and six professional women’s teams, riders are not allowed to take Tramadol in competition, and must be withdrawn from competition for eight days after being treated to corticosteroids.
Riders on MPCC teams are also given regular cortisol tests, with any riders registering low cortisol levels – a sign of recent use of corticosteroids and also a sign of poor health – being withdrawn from competition.
The MPCC letter goes on to point out the potential performance-enhacing effects of both Tramadol and corticosteroids, as well as highlighting the occasions where WADA has talked about banning or taking steps towards banning them without any perceivable action, concluding with the words “we can’t wait any longer, we are tired.”