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What is tramadol? Explaining pro cycling’s ban on the potent painkiller

What is tramadol? Explaining pro cycling's ban on the potent painkiller

Nairo Quintana is the first positive case for tramadol in cycling (Image credit: Roberto Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency) On Wednesday, 17 August 2022 Nairo Quintana became the first…

Wednesday, Aug 17

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Nairo Quintana is the first positive case for tramadol in cycling (Image credit: Roberto Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency)

On Wednesday, 17 August 2022 Nairo Quintana became the first professional cyclist to be sanctioned for using the opioid painkiller tramadol in competition.

The case is unique in that the UCI rules, in force since March 2019, exceed those of the World Anti-Doping Agency in banning Tramadol.

Tramadol use falls under the UCI’s medical regulations, rather than its anti-doping programme, so positive tests are not treated as anti-doping rule violations.

Quintana has been stripped of his results from the Tour de France , where he tested positive, but has not been suspended, although he could be if he tests positive again in the future.

The case is a novelty in professional cycling, leading to question marks and confusion, so Cyclingnews sets out all you need to know about tramadol – from its effects and its associations with performance enhancement, to the ban and what the UCI rules actually mean. What is tramadol?

The prescription drug has been on the market since the 1970s but has only come into widespread use since the 1990s.It is in the class of opioids, a group of drugs that also includes powerful painkillers like morphine and oxycontin but was marketed for managing pain without the highs imparted by those drugs.Tramadol is effective in managing low to moderate pain but it still comes with undesirable side effects that include dizziness and drowsiness, nausea and, in higher doses, respiratory issues. Does tramadol enhance performance? […]

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