Prohibited substances and methods

Some drugs, medications and substances are banned in sport, as are some methods.

Athletes competing in sports governed by a World Anti-Doping Code compliant anti-doping policy need to be aware that they can’t just take any drug or medication, or even use certain methods.

The Prohibited List

The current version of the Prohibited List, along with modifications and monitoring program information is available on the WADA website.

Each year the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) updates and publishes a Prohibited List, which is the international standard that outlines the substances and methods that are prohibited in sport.

WADA is responsible for preparing and annually publishing the Prohibited List following consultation with experts and WADA’s many stakeholders. Development of the Prohibited List involves a number of meetings each year of the List Expert Group. The Prohibited List is approved by WADA’s Executive Committee in September of each year and published three months prior to it coming into effect on 1 January.

ASADA promotes the updated Prohibited List to Australian sports and athletes each year.

PDF icon Explanatory notes for the changes to the 2019 Prohibited List.


How substances become prohibited

For a substance or method to be prohibited, it must meet two of the following three conditions:

  1. The substance or method has the potential to enhance, or does enhance performance in sport.
  2. The substance or method has the potential to risk the athlete’s health.
  3. WADA has determined that the substance or method violates the spirit of sport.

The World Anti-Doping Prohibited List identifies substances and methods that athletes cannot take or use, and presents them in a number of categories. It is important to understand that the Prohibited List is not exhaustive in that several categories of substances are ‘open’. For example, some categories include ‘other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s)’. 

Every year there are hundreds, if not thousands, of new or modified substances developed in laboratories, or new products released onto the market or black-market. There are also people willing to push the boundaries with experimental substances and methods which have not been clinically tested or approved for human use.

For these reasons there will be instances where ASADA must consult with an extensive range of stakeholders (including WADA), as well as conduct a thorough examination of products and methods before it forms a view on the status of a particular substance, method or product.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code’s strict liability principle, athletes are ultimately responsible for any substance found in their body, regardless of how it got there. The presence of a prohibited substance may result in an anti-doping rule violation, whether its use was intentional or unintentional. ASADA’s advice to athletes and support personnel is to use caution when considering the use of a particular substance or product as it may lead to a possible anti-doping rule violation.


Check your substances on Global DRO

To use Global DRO:

  1. Click the ‘Check Your Substances’ button on the home page or the link at the bottom of this, or any other page of the website.
  2. Choose the ‘User Type’ (e.g. athlete or medical professional); the ‘Sport’; and ‘Nation of Purchase’. Correct selection of the ‘Sport’ and ‘Nation of Purchase’ are essential to ensure the correct results
  3. Enter the name of the medication or ingredient
  4. Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  5. Get the results instantly. A number of results may be listed. Ensure that the result you select matches exactly to the medication or ingredient.  
  6. A receipt number will be listed at the bottom of your results page. We recommend you save this number or print out or email a copy of your results to yourself.
  7. To check more than one substance, enter a medication or ingredient in the ‘new search’ box.

At the end of a search a reference number will be provided to document search results. A unique reference number is created for each medication or ingredient that you search. It is extremely important that this reference number is retained as proof of the search before using a medication or substance. This may help an athlete if they are ever called upon to provide that information in the future.

Advice about search results

It is very important that you select the item from the Global DRO search list that is an exact match to your search entry.

If the list does not include an exact match to your search term, do not select another substance from the list as it may not be related in any way to your searched substance. That is, the list is a guide only in the event you have misspelt your search term. You should carefully check the spelling of your substance and find an exact match. 

If the particular brand name is not in the database, try searching for the active ingredients found on the front of the medication packaging.

It is not possible to check the status of supplements on Global DRO. The online search tool does not contain information on, or that applies to, any dietary supplement which also includes homeopathic products, traditional medicines, herbals, and probiotics.


Important information about GW501516

In 2013 WADA released an advisory cautioning athletes to be aware of the black market substance GW501516. GW501516 was a developmental drug that was withdrawn from research by the pharmaceutical company and terminated when serious toxicities were discovered. More information on the WADA advisory can be found on its website.



Pseudoephedrine is prohibited above 150 micrograms per millilitre, under WADA's Prohibited List. Athletes should not take pseudoephedrine 24 hours prior to or during competition. There are permitted alternatives which can be taken in this time period. Out-of-competition there is no need for a TUE to take pseudoephedrine.

For therapeutic applications in-competition, consider the use of alternative permitted medications upon consultation with a physician, or apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).


Overseas products

Drugs, medications and ingredients listed on Global DRO are only brand-name products sold in Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Japan. Be extremely careful when using an overseas product. 

Athletes or support people might not find medications or substances listed on Global DRO if they are an overseas product (outside of the above named countries), a new product, or if they are searching by the generic product name or ingredients. Some medications obtained overseas have the same brand name as medications sold in Australia, but they may contain different ingredients. Although the name and logo may be identical to that in Australia, overseas products may contain substances that are prohibited in sport.