'Ten times stronger than Tramadol' - UCI and MPCC urge immediate ban of new drug that may get in cycling

There is an ever-growing technological fight in cycling to get the best performance out of every rider and simultaneously; There is a constant effort to monitor, suspend or even ban substances that may be used and put the riders' healths in danger. A lot of focus is currently on Tapentadol, a drug similar to Tramadol which is likely to be banned soon.

“It took us twelve years to get Tramadol on the list of banned substances. We hope that the authorities will act more quickly this time," Roger Legeay, president of the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling), told Le Temps. “Healthy athletes do not need such products. Moreover, it is important to emphasize that painkillers reduce or even eliminate pain. That is another performance-enhancing factor.”

The use of Tramadol in the peloton is still not fully eliminated. Whilst it is not as popular as in the past, riders such as Nairo Quintana and Alex Baudin for example are among those who tested positive for the painkiller during Grand Tours. This did not lead to doping suspensions but it nullified their results and UCI points scored in specific times.

The UCI said earlier this year that "the percentage of use of Tramadol in cycling has fallen from between 4 and 6 percent in the period before 2019, to a figure between 0.2 and 0.5 percent following that date," and ever since the 1st of January of 2024 WADA has officially banned Tramadol from any sort of use during cycling. Suspensions will fall on the riders who test positive for it. But Tapentadol, a similar but 'ten times more powerful than Tramadol', is the next target.

Wanting to prevent a similar situation to develop with this substance, the UCI has already requested permission from WADA to test the substance with the ultimate goal of banning it. We should know in coming months whether the efforts will be successful, or if this will remain in a grey area.

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