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Vol. 53. Num. 197.January - March 2018Pages 1-42
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Vol. 53. Num. 197.January - March 2018Pages 1-42
Original Article
DOI: 10.1016/j.apunts.2017.09.002
Doping control adverse results prevalence worldwide for 13 consecutive years
Prevalencia de resultados adversos en los controles de dopaje a nivel mundial durante 13 años consecutivos
Franchek Drobnica,
Corresponding author
, Pedro Alberto Galileab
a Servicios Médicos del FC Barcelona, Departamento de Investigación del CAR, Unidad Medicina del Deporte Hospital Sant Joan de Deu, Spain
b Departamento de Fisiologia del Deporte del CAR, Spain
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Tables (3)
Table 1. Including ARISF, AIMS, the Paralympics committee, disabled sports, sports not included in ADAMS (North American leagues) and other sports.a.
Table 4. The presence of adverse results (AR) in Olympic sports according to Association or Committee.
Table 5. The presence of adverse results (AR) in non-Olympic sports according to association or committee.
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The presence of adverse results in doping controls is always bad news for the sport, as it reflects the moral and ethical absence of a clean competition. Its prevalence and evolution is important to know and have criteria on the relevance of this event.


The results of doping controls from 2003 to 2015 at the global level, offered by the World Anti-Doping Agency on its website, have been revised.


The presence of adverse results of the year 2015 as last reference, reached 0.83% in Olympic sports and 2.04% in the non-Olympic ones. It remains a similar level during the last 7 years, tending to decline in the Olympics and increase in the non-Olympics. The groups of predominant substances are, in order, anabolic steroids 50.3%, stimulants 15.4% and maskers 12.5%, being the rest diverse and variable. It should be noted that many treatments with therapeutic authorisation, i.e., beta agonists (3–4%), glucocorticosteroids (6–8%) or central nervous system (3–5%), are shown as adverse results, but are therefore not doping positive and in their case punishable. Similarly, the high number of anabolic positives is the result of fraud, but also the presence of repeated samples in the follow-up study of some athletes.


The data serve as a reference to have a more accurate criterion in reference to this field of sport.

Doping control
Anabolic steroids
World AntiDoping Agency (WADA)

La presencia de resultados adversos en los controles de dopaje son siempre una noticia nefasta para el deporte, pues refleja la ausencia moral y ética de una competición limpia. Su prevalencia y evolución es importante para conocer y disponer de criterio sobre la relevancia de este suceso.


Se han revisado los resultados de los controles de dopaje del 2003 al 2015 a nivel mundial, ofrecidos por la Agencia Mundial Antidopaje en su web. Se ofrecen, además, los resultados por deportes del 2015.


La presencia de resultados adversos, tomando de referencia ese año, alcanza un 0,83% de las muestras estudiadas en los deportes olímpicos y un 2,04% en los no olímpicos. Se mantiene un nivel similar en los últimos 7 años, tendiendo a disminuir en los deportes olímpicos y aumentar en los no olímpicos. Los grupos de sustancias predominantes son, por orden, anabolizantes (50,3%), estimulantes (15,4%) y enmascarantes (12,5%), siendo el resto diverso y variable. En el total de resultados debe tenerse en cuenta que muchos tratamientos con autorización terapéutica, por ejemplo para beta-agonistas (3-4%), glucocorticoides (6-8%) o del sistema nervioso central (3-5%), se muestran como resultados adversos, pero no son por tanto dopaje positivo ni en su caso sancionables. De igual manera, el elevado número de positivos en anabolizantes son fruto del fraude pero también de la presencia de muestras repetidas en los seguimientos de estudio de algunos deportistas.


Los datos sirven de referencia para disponer de un criterio más certero en referencia a este ámbito del deporte.

Palabras clave:
Control dopaje
Anabolizantes esteroideos
World AntiDoping Agency (WADA)
Full Text

The true extent of the results and data on the fight against doping are not only unknown, as also the news about doping in successful sports personalities in the media gives a message that is very distant from the actual situation. Official analysis to detect banned substances in sportsmen and women has been practised since the 1960s, when the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) and the International Cycling Union (UCI) carried out the first determinations. The consolidation in 1999 of the World AntiDoping Agency (WADA-AMA) was a very important step, as it not only brought the majority of international sports federations together with the same aim, but also established an Antidoping Code listing banned substances in and outside competitions, together with all of the procedures and actions necessary to obtain samples correctly.1 Since then and up to now the grouping together of regional and national antidoping agencies and Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations and associations has strengthened the commitment to clean competition.

However, it is not easy to communicate the message that this contest against fraudulent competitors is being won. It is habitual in different competitions, and above all those which attract the largest numbers of followers, for news to arise that a winning sportsman or woman cheated to gain an honour that does not correspond to them. Such news items are often the most widely broadcast, and they debase the references to the sports in question.

The WADA-AMA has published the worldwide results of these analyses annually since 2003 in its official website. This paper presents the results, classified and grouped according to sports, with the aim of offering those who study this subject resources that show the actual situation.


The annual results from the last 13 years from 2003 to 2015 were obtained from the WADA-AMA web page. These results are classified according to sport, whether or not it is an Olympic sport and according to the banned substance detected by analysis. To break down the findings according to sport and to make a selection from them the results of the last year shown in the web page, 2015, are shown.

Adverse results are identified, i.e., the ones that are unexpected and indicate the presence in a urine sample of a substance considered to be doping according to the current antidoping code. By definition an “Adverse analytical Result” indicates the presence of banned substances or the use of banned methods in a certain sample. Adverse Analytical Results should not be confused with AntiDoping Rule Violations (ADRV) which are judged or punished due to several reasons. These figures may therefore contain findings that were subject to the process of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) Authorisation, or some adverse analytical findings may correspond to multiple measurements in a single sportsman or woman, such as cases of longitudinal studies to evaluate the presence of testosterone (i.e., monitoring the testosterone level in an individual over a period of time).


The results are shown in Tables 1–5. Table 1 shows that the number of checks performed has doubled over these 13 years (by 200.6%). Although fewer checks have always been performed in non-Olympic sports than in Olympic ones, over somewhat more than a decade non-Olympic sports federations and the organisers of the sports events they participate in have committed themselves to clean competition and health protection. There has therefore been a major increase in the number of tests in non-Olympic sports or activities (by 284%).

Table 1.

Including ARISF, AIMS, the Paralympics committee, disabled sports, sports not included in ADAMS (North American leagues) and other sports.a.

Yeara  Total checks  Total Olympic  Total No. Olympic  Ratio Ol./non Ol.  Total Adverse Results  Adverse Results Olympic  Adverse Results non Olympica 
2003151,210113,56237,64867%2447  1710  737 
1.62%  1.51%  1.96% 
2004169,187128,59140,59668%2909  2145  764 
1.72%  1.67%  1.88% 
2005183,337139,83643,50169%3909  2958  951 
2.13%  2.12%  2.19% 
2006198,143156,86641,27774%3887  2915  972 
1.96%  1.86%  2.35% 
2007223,898174,48349,41572%4402  3375  1027 
1.97%  1.93%  2.08% 
2008274,615202,06772,54864%2956  1974  982 
1.08%  0.98%  1.35% 
2009277,928187,02990,89951%3091  1674  1417 
1.11%  0.90%  1.56% 
2010258,267180,58477,68357%2790  1624  1166 
1.08%  0.90%  1.50% 
2011243,193167,82075,37355%2885  1762  1123 
1.19%  1.05%  1.49% 
2012267,645184,95582,69055%3190  1831  1359 
1.19%  0.99%  1.64% 
2013269,878176,50293,37647%3529  1710  1819 
1.31%  0.97%  1.95% 
2014283,304186,73996,56548%3153  1440  1713 
1.11%  0.77%  1.77% 
2015303,369196,581106,78846%3809  1634  2175 
1.26%  0.83%  2.04% 

The Bold results are the rate of the absolute number in relation out of the total.

Table 2.

Number of samples identified as adverse results in each group for the sports included in ADAMS. They should not be confused with violations punished by the regulations (ADRVs) given that some may be covered by a TUE or may correspond to several tests in the same subject.

RA: adverse results, AT procedural alterations, B2 agonists: Beta agonists or beta2 adrenergics, GlycoCTC: glycocorticoids, H.Pept.: peptide hormones.

Table 3.

Adverse results for the presence of S1 category stimulants.

Amph: amphetamine, Meth: methamphetamine, MDA: dymethylamine.

Table 4.

The presence of adverse results (AR) in Olympic sports according to Association or Committee.

Association  Sport  Tested  RA 
ASOIF  Weightlifting  10,262  272  2.7% 
ASOIF  Golf  417  10  2.4% 
ASOIF  Horse riding  419  2.1% 
ASOIF  Boxing  4842  85  1.8% 
ASOIF  Basketball  5504  64  1.2% 
ASOIF  Wrestling  5381  62  1.2% 
ASOIF  Cycling  22,652  244  1.1% 
ASOIF  Taekwondo  2184  21  1.0% 
ASOIF  Rugby  8451  80  0.9% 
ASOIF  Athletics  30,308  265  0.9% 
ASOIF  Archery  928  0.8% 
ASOIF  Shooting  2849  21  0.7% 
ASOIF  Rowing  5288  37  0.7% 
ASOIF  Judo  5104  35  0.7% 
ASOIF  Canoeing  4547  31  0.7% 
ASOIF  Handball  3739  25  0.7% 
ASOIF  Football  32,362  160  0.5% 
ASOIF  Triathlon  4130  20  0.5% 
ASOIF  Tennis  4451  21  0.5% 
ASOIF  Volleyball  4502  21  0.5% 
ASOIF  Hockey  1432  0.4% 
ASOIF  Water sports  12,973  54  0.4% 
ASOIF  Gymnastics  2416  10  0.4% 
ASOIF  Table tennis  1019  0.4% 
ASOIF  Sailing  815  0.4% 
ASOIF  Fencing  1818  0.3% 
ASOIF  Badminton  1285  0.2% 
ASOIF  Pentathlon M.  642  0.0% 
  Total  180,720  1575  0.9% 
AIOWF  Ice hockey  3359  36  1.1% 
AIOWF  Curling  265  0.4% 
AIOWF  Bobsleigh  854  0.2% 
AIOWF  Skiing  5555  10  0.2% 
AIOWF  Skating  3605  0.2% 
AIOWF  Biathlon  1920  0.2% 
AIOWF  Luge  303  0.0% 
  Total  15,861  58  0.4% 
Disabled sports3235  54  1.7% 
Int. Paralympics Comm.3687  64  1.7% 
Table 5.

The presence of adverse results (AR) in non-Olympic sports according to association or committee.

Association  Sport  Tested  AR  Association  Sport  Tested  AR 
Others  Electronic DxT  25.0%           
Others  Weight lifting+WDFPF  81  12  14.8%  AIMS  Cheer  65  3.1% 
AIMS+Others  Body building  1932  285  14.8%  AIMS+Others  Fistball  35  2.9% 
Others  Combat DxT  24  8.3%  ARISF  Sumo  147  2.7% 
AIMS  Muaythai  192  14  7.3%  Others  Kabaddi  154  2.6% 
AIMS  Fishing  70  7.1%  ARISF+Others  Dancing+WDC  319  2.5% 
Others  Rafting  28  7.1%  Others  Basque sports  40  2.5% 
Others  Motoball  14  7.1%  Others  Mixed martial arts  484  12  2.5% 
Others  Outrigger VA’A  44  6.8%  ARISF  Billiards  213  2.3% 
Others  Arm wrestling  271  18  6.6%  AIMS  Sambo  352  2.3% 
Others  Hockey  17  5.9%  ARISF  Gliding  139  2.2% 
Others  Kurash (wrestling)  53  5.7%  ARISF  Motorcycling  435  2.1% 
Others  Kung Fu  20  5.0%  AIMS  Lacrosse  49  2.0% 
AIMS  Chinese chequers  20  5.0%  ARISF+Others  Karate  1.096  22  2.0% 
AIMS  Sledging  20  5.0%  ARISF  Mountain skiing  102  2.0% 
Others  Strongest man  21  4.8%  ARISF+Others  Baseball  1.809  35  1.9% 
Others  Boxing (prof/mil.)  320  15  4.7%  ARISF  Wushu  397  1.8% 
Others  Athletics  110  4.5%  Others  Football  176  1.7% 
AIMS  Darts  66  4.5%  AIMS+Others  Savate/French boxing  61  1.6% 
AIMS+Others  Kickboxing  545  23  4.2%  Others  Horse racing  191  1.6% 
Others  Kettlebell  50  4.0%  Others  Volleyball  69  1.4% 
ARISF  Motor racing  471  18  3.8%  ARISF+Others  Bandy, Ring/ka, broomball  283  1.4% 
ARISF  DxT similar to petanque  163  3.7%  ARISF+Others  Chess  72  1.4% 
ARISF+Others  American football  903  33  3.7%  ARISF  Squash  293  1.4% 
ARISF  Pelota  138  3.6%  ARISF+Others  Surfing  159  1.3% 
AIMS  Weight lifting  3194  106  3.3%  Others  UK Rugby and diverse  1.621  20  1.2% 
Others  Cycling  127  3.1%  ARISF  Jet ski  170  1.2% 
Others  Shooting  32  3.1%  ARISF  Tug of war  95  1.1% 

Ring/k: rijgette y Rinkball.

The three columns on the right in Table 1 show the presence of adverse outcomes. In the samples evaluated these are really rare at less than 1% of those who practice Olympic sports and hardly above 2% for non-Olympic sports (Fig. 1) in the last recorded year.

Figure 1.

Adverse results (AR) according to Olympic category.

Table 2 shows abnormal results according to substance. Anabolic steroids are the most used substance in all of the annual series, with values that are always close to or above 50% in comparison with the other substances. Different proportions of stimulants are in second place (Table 3), while masking agents are in third place, having risen since 2014. Although the latter products have no active effect themselves in sport terms, they are used to hinder or annul the detection of a banned substance by the antidoping control laboratory. In Table 2 it must be underlined that glycocorticoids remain in a range from 4% to 7%. Like betagonists and some others, this medication must not always be considered to be doping. As was pointed out above, its presence in a sample may be justified by a current TUE, that does not eliminate the result of the quantification listed and must not be considered to be doping, so that it is not punishable.

Table 3 shows the results of the different stimulants used with the intent to cheat. Pseudoephedrine was once fully authorised. However, due to its reappearance at striking levels in certain sports it was banned once again. This ban did not take place because in certain countries it was evaluated again, after which it was understood that its reappearance was not due to expressly therapeutic reasons.2 In the one-year evaluation its presence may be considered to stand at a low level, as it was found in fewer than 9 subjects. Nevertheless, it would be expected that it would not exist at all, not even as the result of a mistake or due to a poorly prescribed therapy.

The use of amphetamines as stimulants is especially interesting, given that detection of them not only does not fall, but increases in both absolute and relative terms. This is also the case for methylphenidate, which is used for learning deficit pathologies. The detection of this substance should always be accompanied by a TUE accepted by the relevant body. However, this is not always the case, as it is known to be used as doping substance in sport. On the other hand, the use of dimethylamylamine or methylhexanamine seems to be falling since the 2012 London Olympic Games. This is an amphetamine derivative that has no therapeutic profile or format, so that its conscious use (or unconscious use, as it is found in some sports supplement products) is considered to be doping.3

Tables 4 and 5 show the results according to sport in the year 2015. The first of these, Table 4, refers to summer Olympic sports (ASOIF) and winter Olympic sports (AIOWF). Table 5 shows non-Olympic sports corresponding to several sports federations and associations. The latter shows the data from sports that may belong to different associations together, combining them to make them easier to understand. To reduce this table to a size suitable for publication, it has been restricted to sports with adverse results or 1% or greater.


Based on these results, it seems that fewer sports men and women use doping that could previously have been guessed. Although it is correct that the presence of only one case should be considered despicable, it is also true that the presence of a single positive result would not correspond to one individual of every hundred analyses performed in Olympic sports, and hardly to two in non-Olympic sports. The other reading of this datum, from the ethical and moral point of view in sport, is that of every 100 sports men and women, 98.99 in Olympic sports behave correctly and follow the rules.

These tables contain numbers and may look worthy of a stock market broker. Some points should be raised to ensure that these results are interpreted broadly and correctly. As was pointed out above as well as in the table legends, although adverse results are shown they are not always punishable, as they may be due to a TUE. On the other hand, the positive results for some substances such as anabolic steroids may correspond to several samples from a single individual who was being monitored. Thus although it is correct that anabolic steroids have to be monitored as they are the most widely used doping substances, the result respecting them is somewhat amplified due to the range of additional samples arising from the above-mentioned cause.

On the other hand, it is interesting to observe the increased use of masking agents, products used with the aim of hiding the use of another prohibited substance or perhaps to limit the concentration of another substance with a positivity threshold, as well as the use of certain stimulants (Table 3).

When the tables are evaluated according to sports, in some the level of adverse results is anecdotal, under 0.5% (1/200 subjects), while in others it is clearly higher. Moreover, some substances are stimulants rather than ergogenics, and they may be used to enhance performance or for so-called “social” purposes which, in any case, also modify qualities and abilities which, in sports events will raise subjects above their normal state and make them better than would correspond to them.

The percentages are different in non-Olympic sports and activities. In some of them there may be a temptation to use an illicit extra aid due to their similarity to sports and competition. Comparisons may be drawn in this evaluation of non-Olympic sports and activities based on the percentages arising from the number of samples taken. When few samples are taken, as is the case in electronic sports, a single adverse result may ruin its reputation as a clean sport. We have wished to separate weight-lifting controlled by the AIMS from other weight-lifting sports or even body-building in the same association, given that the number of positive cases is not the same. This is indubitably because these groups of sports men and women compete in very different environments.

Respecting the stimulants, the reason why ephedra derivatives (ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, etc.) are detected in some controls is described above. However, the detection of cocaine is never justifiable, and it seems to be increasing. The use of some amphetamine derivatives is also increasing. These do not necessarily have anything to do with the treatment of learning disorders, such as dimethylamine, which is found in some sports-supplements. Use of this substance increased most especially from 2011 to 2013, and due to this it is shown in a separate column.3 2.8% of samples were positive for methylphenidate in 2015, although when reading these results it must be taken into account that it is a therapeutic substance for attention disorder, with or without hyperactivity, and that its use in therapy always requires a TUE.

We therefore definitively consider that the data shown descriptively in this paper will aid updating and comprehension of the state of doping in sports around the world. This work does not aim to justify performing doping tests, as we believe the need for them to be unquestionable, but rather its purpose is to supply readers with a basis for their own decision. For example, if we translate the results of this evaluation into another field such as traffic, in 2015 and excluding the Basque Country and Catalonia there were 26,339,285 drivers in Spain. There were 4,826,246 traffic infractions during the year, i.e., one infraction for every 5 drivers, or 18.3% committed infraction. This datum is actually incorrect, as some subjects committed more than one infraction, as is also the case with doping. To express this in another way, some drivers committed more than one infraction while many others committed none. Although someone may disagree with the control and punishment, it is clear that infractions only fall in number after a punishment was set. This is the case for the points-based driving licence, as since it was introduced the percentages of deaths on city and intercity roads fell until 2016, when the tendency changed again.4 There can be no doubt that control is positive, even when it is not liked. This is why, and to return to our own context, it is not enough for clean sportsmen and women to fight to remain clean and give an example, as unfortunately controls must still be used, together with punishment when applicable, to further reduce the number of positive tests and permit clean competition without cheating. Nevertheless, we would be delighted if the percentage of cheats in other areas of life were 1%, 2% or even 5%. Examples?


There are fewer than 1% of negative results in doping tests in Olympic sports, and somewhat more than 2% in non-Olympic sports.

The group of substances with the highest rate of negative results is the anabolic steroids, followed at a distance by stimulants and masking agents.

An adverse result is not always caused by doping, as it may be result of consuming a substance for which a TUE has been issued and which has to be taken for health reasons. Examples of such substances are terbutaline, insulin or corticoids administered in a prohibited way.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interests to declare and have no personal economic interests in this paper.

F. Drobnic
Síntomas de vías respiratorias altas y normativa antidopaje de La pseudoefedrina: camino de ida y vuelta Apunts
Medicina de l’Esport, 45 (2010), pp. 215-216
Copyright © 2017. FC Barcelona
Apunts Medicina de l'Esport (English Edition)

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