Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in Powerlifting

SupplementsToday I am looking at the use of drugs in powerlifting, What the rules are concerning Performance enhancing drugs and where to find more information.

Powerlifting is a very fractured sport consisting of many different federations, each of which have different rules concerning the use and testing for drug which may or may not enhance performance.

In Australia alone there are 3 federations each with different rules

Capo has no drug testing, Australian Drug Free Powerlifting Association is a small federation with very limited competition opportunities, They have drug testing through a private lab. Powerlifting Australia is the recognised Governing body for powerlifting in Australia with drug testing performed by ASADA (Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority) Which conducts drug testing for recognised sports in Australia.

Testing When and Where ?

Powerlifters who are under ASADA / WADA rules are subjected to both in competition testing and random testing outside of competition, with each lifter being required to keep up to date a list of training locations and training times along with home address to allow for the random testing. The more elite the athlete the more information about location is required.

Strict Liability

The IPF Anti-Doping policy is 76 pages long but it basically boils down to strict liability for the athlete.

It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no
Prohibited Substance enters his or her body. Athletes are
responsible for any Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or
Markers found to be present in their Samples. Accordingly, it is not
necessary that intent, Fault, negligence or knowing Use on the
Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping
rule violation under Article 2.1.

This means if you swallow it, inject it or consume a prohibited drug in any way the ultimate responsibility is yours, you cannot blame your coach or your doctor or your mother. eg. Shane Warne the Cricketer Was banned for taking a tablet because mum said so.

But why is X drug banned when it does not help performance ?

It is true that not all drugs on the Prohibited List actually enhance sporting performance. A selection of drugs are on the list are “Masking Agents” which means that they hide the presence of performance enhancing drugs.

What if the drug is prescribed by my Doctor ?

If you need a banned drug to maintain good health and there are no alternative non banned drugs or methods available, an athlete can apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) which gets evaluated by Specialist Doctors and if approved allows the athlete to take the medication according to the TUE without fear of sanction.

All the drug names are confusing

When you read through the list of banned substances, it is like reading an advanced chemistry text book, so how does the average athlete know whether their medicine is banned ? There are a number of hotlines or official website which an athlte can call or visit to check their medication including this ASADA Check your substance website.

What about supplement ?

Athletes who take supplements are at risk of committing an anti-doping rule violation. This is because substances prohibited in sport may be added deliberately during the supplement manufacturing process, or included inadvertently through contamination. When a supplement has “Proprietary Blend” as an ingredient there is no way of knowing what is in the supplement and it should not be used by drug tested lifters, remember STRICT LIABILITY.

In a study (BMC Medicine201311:222 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-222) looking at the contents of herbal supplement they found the following levels of contamination.

Herbal Supplement contamination


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