Misuse of tramadol: UCI report on tests carried out during the first part of the 2019 season

May 22, 2019, 14:00 PM

Following the introduction, on 1 March 2019, of the ban on the use of tramadol in competition, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) can today confirm that it has carried out 143 tests on 117 riders at 11 events on the UCI WorldTour Calendar. All tests came back negative.

The UCI – with the support of the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), the independent body mandated to define and lead the strategy on anti-doping testing and investigations in our sport – took samples mainly at the finish line of races. Tests were carried out using the Dried Blood Spots (DBS) reference method. Developed by the Swiss company DBS Systems, sampling kits were used to conduct this minimally invasive test, which involves collecting a small amount of blood from the rider's fingertip.

Adopting the most advanced technologies, the University of Geneva (Analytical Sciences) have developed and validated the detection method used. The analyses were conducted entirely independently at Geneva University Hospitals’ Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Division. The University of Lausanne’s Centre of Research and Expertise in Anti-Doping Sciences coordinated the project, setting out suitable procedures compliant with anti-doping regulations, and was responsible for the monitoring and anonymous validation of the results.

The riders and teams welcomed the testing and demonstrated full cooperation with staff on the ground.

These medical tests are designed to reduce the risks in competitive cycling, with a number of studies having shown that tramadol may cause drowsiness, loss of concentration and drug dependency. Among other objectives, these tests aim to reduce the risk of dependency on opiates.

The programme monitoring the misuse of tramadol will continue throughout the season across all disciplines, including at the various UCI World Championships. 

Speaking about this first report, UCI President David Lappartient said: "The in-competition tramadol testing programme has entered its transition phase. I would like to thank the staff working on the ground for leading this programme to a successful conclusion, as well as our scientific partners for their support. I would also like to thank the riders and teams who have shown a real desire to make this risk-reduction programme in the peloton a success."