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What Athletes Need to Know About COVID-19 Treatments and

Originally released April 3, 2020
Updated June 22, 2021

The virus associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is more specifically known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is possible that some athletes will contract COVID-19 and will require medication and support during the infection. In general, when athletes receive a doctor or pharmacist’s recommendation or prescription to help manage symptoms, they should check the prohibited status on Global DRO.

Below is some basic information about common COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.* 

hands of person in pharmacy holding multiple blister packs of medication.Over-the-counter medications

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and physicians may recommend various over-the-counter products for mild cases of COVID-19, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, and ibuprofen (all permitted for use in sport).  Before taking any medications, athletes should check the status of all active ingredients on Global DRO.


There are vaccines currently available in the U.S. and globally to prevent COVID-19 and they are all permitted in sport. For more information, reference the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Q&A on COVID-19.

Asthma medications

Inhaler on table.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued special guidelines for people with moderate to severe asthma.

Athletes diagnosed with asthma should be mindful of the rules around administration of common medications and ingredients used to treat asthma. Certain inhalers are permitted, while others are prohibited at all times. Make sure to check the status of your inhaler on GlobalDRO.com and read more on inhaled medications.

Medications to Treat COVID-19

There are several medications that may be prescribed to you to severe COVID-19, such as anti-viral medications or immune-based therapies.

Athletes receiving emergency care or who are hospitalized for COVID-19 should receive treatments as prescribed in the hospital by their physicians.  Once the emergency is over, athletes should check Global DRO or contact drugreference@USADA.org to determine if a retroactive TUE is required.  

Any athlete wishing to enroll proactively into a clinical trial of any type should contact drugreference@USADA.org to determine if a TUE is needed. If any medication is delivered by IV infusion, a TUE may be needed if the infusion is received outside of the hospital.

For the most current information on various COVID-19 treatment recommendations, please visit the National Institute of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines.

Alternative Medicines and Dietary Supplements

The FDA has issued a consumer warning about fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments.  According to the FDA, fraudulent COVID-19 products can come in many varieties, including dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products claiming to be tests, drugs, medical devices, or vaccines. As always, USADA recommends that athletes who choose to use dietary supplements only use NSF Certified for Sport products to reduce their risk of a positive test and/or negative health effects.

More questions?

For questions about the anti-doping status of specific products, substances, and methods, contact USADA’s Drug Reference Line at drugreference@USADA.org or call (719) 785-2000, option 2.

* USADA is providing this content for informational purposes only and does not recommend the use of any medication.

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