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by Shane Stokes
November 3, 2017
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WADA’s reluctance to ban tramadol has come under the spotlight after a study showed that the powerful and highly-addictive painkiller boosted cycling performance during a 20 minute time trial.
The study, published by researchers at the University of Kent and the University of Granada, is peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. The results suggest a five percent improvement in performance during the effort, with the 19 male and female riders showing a gain in average power. Those in the placebo group put out 209 watts, with those taking tramadol achieving 220 watts.
And while their rate of perceived exertion was the same, those in the tramadol group also achieved a higher average heart rate. Theirs was 166 bpm, versus 162 bpm in the other group.
However a second experiment which combined physical exertion with a mental exercise dampened down the effects, with no significant difference being determined between the two groups. Completing the mental task appeared not to be negatively affected by tramadol use.
The anti-doping group MPCC has repeatedly called on WADA to ban the use of Tramadol. It recently blasted the anti-doping agency as ‘reckless’ when it refused calls to prohibit it and corticosteroids. Despite WADA dragging its heels, the new UCI president David Lappartient has said he wants to try to prevent either substance being used.