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4 Surprisingly Risky Substances for Competitive Athletes

Is your athlete a member of a national governing body and subject to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules? Maybe they’re bound for college sports and NCAA anti-doping rules also apply? Or maybe they are just interested in participating in high school sports?

If your athlete is subject to a drug testing program or simply training regularly, it’s important to realize that some substances, including those in common prescription medications, present a risk of a positive anti-doping test and/or a possible health risk to young athletes. Here, we identify four substances that parents and their young athletes may be surprised to find pose an anti-doping and/or health risk.

ADHD Medication

More than 11 percent of school age children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). If your athlete is prescribed a stimulant medication to treat their ADHD, be aware that many prescription stimulants for ADHD are banned in competition (meaning they can’t be in the athlete’s system during the in-competition period), since they can offer an actual or potential mental performance-enhancing benefit to an athlete, including improved attention and focus in virtually every sport.

But ADHD medication can be used under WADA rules as long as the athlete has a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), which requires the athlete to demonstrate that they can satisfy strict criteria for TUE approval. More specifically, getting a TUE for ADHD requires a diagnosis from a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or other physician who specializes in the treatment of ADHD. Athletes must provide medical information showing developmental history, level of impairment through objective standardized testing, and other supporting evidence that justifies that diagnosis. All this information allows an independent panel of medical experts, called a TUE Committee, to determine whether an athlete’s application meets the TUE criteria and ensures a fair and consistent process to evaluate the need for a prohibited substance across sports and individual athletes.

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