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'Remove the grey area in sports medicine': UC Pharmacy Head

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The Head of Pharmacy at the University of Canberra would like to see the grey area taken away from sports medicine by shifting from a list of banned substances to a list of approved substances.

Speaking after the release of the Australian Crime Commission's findings on the relationship between professional sporting bodies, prohibited substances and organised crime, Dr Greg Kyle thinks policing drugs in sports is very difficult with the current system of a banned substances list.

"If it's not on the list, it's not illegal ... so everything else by default can be used until it's put on the list," he said.

"Where as if it's a list of 'these are the things that are legal' ... it's probably a more easily controlled entity then."

Dr Kyle expressed concern that slight molecular modifications to an illegal or banned substance can technically create a legal substance.

"A slight chemical modification makes it a different chemical entity, therefore it's not the product that's listed in the banned list, therefore it's not illegal until it's added in."


While an 'approved list' could have the potential to become very long, Dr Kyle suggested another way to approach drugs in sport is to classify them in groups.

"It's probably a big change [but you could] say all products that act in this way are illegal unless we say they're legal. So if you look through the classes of drugs you could say all growth hormone variants are illegal, unless we specifically say you can use them."

Dr Kyle admits such a system would be "virtually impossible" for athletes to navigate, but referred to reports coming out suggesting athletes don't necessarily know or monitor what is in the supplements they are given by sports scientists.

"It all comes down to risk verses benefit," he said, expressing concern about the reports of athletes using drugs not approved for use in humans or still in the research stages.

"Taking a drug may look like an easy fix, but there's no such thing as a drug without side effects."

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