Dexamethasone, described as life-saving drug for Covid-19, indexed as banned substance in WADA’s prohibited listing | More sports activities News

NEW DELHI: In a major breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19, low-cost, anti-inflammatory steroid, Dexamethasone, has emerged as the possible life-saving drug to help cure the coronavirus patients. The results of the UK-based ‘RECOVERY’ trial published on Tuesday described the drug as highly-effective on reducing mortality rate, especially on patients requiring the ventilator support to treat severe respiratory complications.
However, from the point of view of sports and athletes, Dexamethasone is listed as the performance-enhancing steroid in the World Anti-Doping Agency‘s (Wada) 2019 list of prohibited drugs and has been described as a “specified substance” attracting punishment if found in a sportsperson’s body system. On the Wada’s website under the ‘prohibited in-competition substances’ category, Dexamethasone is listed as a ‘glucocorticoids’ which are prohibited when administered by oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes.
Apart from Dexamethasone, the other glucocorticoids include Betamethasone, Budesonide, Cortisone, Deflazacort, Fluticasone, Hydrocortisone, Methylprednisolone, Prednisolone, Prednisone and Triamcinolone.
Recently, India’s leading javelin thrower and a World Championships finalist, Davinder Singh Kang, was provisionally suspended by the National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) after traces of banned substance Dexamethasone was found in his urine samples. Kang has already been served the ‘adverse analytical finding’ (AAF) notice of charge by the Nada and the Jalandhar-born athlete has accepted the optional provisional suspension after waiving off his right for ‘B’ sample testing.
The drug is commonly available and most athletes resorting to doping consume it hours before their competition to boost performance. It has the potential to enhance sport performances to aid athletes in high altitudes. According to an internet search, Dexamethasone is a long-acting, systemic corticosteroid and its potency is about 25 times greater than the short-acting products.
With the low-cost drug (In India, it will cost approx Rs 500) being touted as a possible life-saver to fight the pandemic globally and, if given a green light by health authorities to administer the tablet to Covid-19 patients, it would be interesting to see whether the Wada and the national anti-doping organisations (NADOs) world over delist Dexamethasone from their prohibited list of banned substance. Or, will give exemption in such cases to those athletes, who suffered from Covid-19 and were administered the drug.
There’s no guarantee or surety that athletes, be it Indian or international, can’t be affected by the virus infection as the sportspersons are generally considered to have a strong immune system. The high amount of precaution athletes take while following their diet plan and food supplements make them less vulnerable to the virus. But, still, when the virus can spread from person-to-person infected by it, any negligence can prove to be dangerous. If an athlete contracted the virus and required administration of Dexamethasone, then it could create some headache for the Wada if that particular athlete were tested for dope at a later stage. It’s been said that a substance takes time to be flushed out completely from the body system.
According to sources in the Wada, the global anti-doping watchdog would like to adopt a wait-and-watch policy before commenting further on the development. The sources informed that it’s premature to arrive at any decision at this stage and indicated that once it’s officially declared a curable medicine in the fight against Covid-19, then a policy decision will be arrived at.

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