Simone Biles' ADHD Meds Among Common Drugs Banned From Olympics

Many common and over-the-counter drugs are banned from Olympics.

ByABC News
September 14, 2016, 11:04 AM

— -- A hack of the World Anti-Doping Agency has drawn attention to commonly prescribed medications that are prohibited for use during the Olympics without a medical waiver.

Agency officials said Tuesday that they were hacked by Russian hackers and that multiple star athletes — including Venus Williams and Serena Williams — had their medical information released.

Among those targeted was gold-medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles, who is reportedly taking methylphenidate, a stimulant for treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Biles, 19, took to Twitter today to say she was not ashamed of her condition.

While stimulants are a banned substance, medications used for ADHD may be allowed if an athlete gets a medical waiver. And although stimulants in people without ADHD can make them feel hyperactive or laser focused, the drugs help people with ADHD rein in their hyperactivity and diminishes distractibility. WADA officials no longer ask athletes to cease treatment for a competition because symptoms are best controlled with consistent daily usage.

Medical experts point out that the drug is one of many common over-the-counter and prescription drugs that athletes must either avoid or get a waiver to take.

Athletes have to be vigilant about any drug they take because the prohibited list includes not just performance-enhancing substances such as steroids and EPO (erythropoietin), which can increase the amount of red blood cells in the body, but also certain diuretics, asthma medication and even some cold and flu medications, according to the World Anti-Doping Association.

"They have a banned list [World Anti-Doping Agency officials] put out," Dennis Cardone, an orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine physician at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in an earlier interview. "Athletes ... it's their responsibility to make sure [their drugs are] not on the banned list."

Pseudoephedrine, commonly found in the cold and flu medication Sudafed, is banned on the day of competition. The drug is a stimulant and can make athletes more alert for a competition.

If an athlete is battling a cold or flu, the U.S. Anti-Doping Association advises athletes to stop taking the drugs a few days before they compete.

Albuterol, used to treat asthma, may not be used in conjunction with a diuretic without a medical waiver. The drug has been used by athletes to build muscle mass.

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