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What Parents of Junior Athletes Need To Know About Medications in Sport

Young athlete high fiving a parent on the sideline (close-up of hands.)If your son or daughter is a member of, or competes in events hosted by, an Olympic, Paralympic, or Pan-American sport organization, then he or she is subject to anti-doping rules and might be drug tested.

In these cases, one of the most common questions parents have is whether their junior athletes can continue taking prescribed medications even though they are competing in sport. Worried parents might even have their kids stop taking prescribed medications out of fear they will test positive and be sanctioned.  

Taking anti-doping rules seriously is good, but there are several things parents should do to make sure their young athlete is compliant with the rules while also taking necessary medications.

  1. global dro logoFirst, parents should find out the anti-doping status of the medications by searching GlobalDRO.com. You can search both the brand and the active ingredients. If the results say the medication is not prohibited, then it can be used in sport without any restrictions. If the results say conditional, then you should read the text in the “additional information” box to determine whether your junior athlete’s use of the medication falls within the allowable guidelines.

  2. If Global DRO says a medication is prohibited (either in-competition only, or in and out- of-competition), then a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) may be necessary. A TUE grants athletes permission to use a prohibited medication in sport if they have provided required documentation and met a number of criteria.

  3. However, not all junior athletes will need a TUE for all prohibited medications. The need for a TUE will depend on the USADA TUE Policy in force at the time and on the competition level (e.g., international, national, recreational, age-group) of the junior athlete. Because it can be difficult to correctly determine competition level, USADA recommends parents (or the athlete) fill out the TUE Pre-Check Form.

The TUE Pre-Check Form is not a TUE application. It is just a form that lets USADA determine whether a TUE is required. Once the TUE Pre-Check Form is submitted, USADA will review it and provide written confirmation as to whether a full TUE application is required. While waiting for USADA’s response (usually within three business days), we do not recommend that your young athlete stop taking his or her medication unless directed to do so by a doctor. The athlete’s health is the most important aspect to consider. If a TUE is required, USADA will assist you throughout the process. 

For more information on the TUE application process, visit the USADA TUE section, or contact USADA’s Drug Reference Line at drugreference@usada.org or call (719) 785-2000, option 2.

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