Sergio Ramos doping test: What is dexamethasone, the substance Real Madrid captain allegedly used?

The Real Madrid captain is alleged to have used dexamethasone, a substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances but only during competition

Friday 23 November 2018 19:15
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Sergio Ramos - Spotlight on

Dexamethasone, the medication that Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is alleged to have used prior to the 2017 Champions League final, is a prescription medication used to treat many conditions, including rheumatic problems, a number of skin diseases and severe allergies.

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid, a type of medicine that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

Dexamethasone, which has the brand names DexPak and Decadron, is not a performance-enhancing drug but a type of steroid medication with anti-inflammatory effects that is usually used to aid an athlete’s rehabilitation.

The effects of dexamethasone are frequently seen within a day and last for about three days.

The substance is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) list of prohibited substances but only during competition – and not before competition. That means if dexamethasone is detected in the off season or prior to a competition, its use would not be considered unlawful.

In football, its administration is permitted prior to matches but only if the team doctor then reports its use in the course of a doping test. Should the doctor neglect to do so – and should traces of dexamethasone then be found in a footballer’s body – it is considered to be a suspected case of doping.

Der Spiegel’s latest ‘Football Leaks’ story alleges Ramos took the banned substance dexamethasone prior to the 2017 Champions League final.

The story acknowledged that “Wada has established clear rules for the use of dexamethasone. Its administration is allowed prior to matches”.

However, Real Madrid’s team doctor did not include Ramos’ consumption of the medication in his team report, contravening Uefa rules. Uefa have since declared the team doctor failed to do so because of an “administrative error”.

This is not the first time dexamethasone has made international sporting headlines.

Sergio Ramos captains Real Madrid and Spain (Getty)

In 2014, Malaysian badminton player and former World No 1 Lee Chong Wei was temporarily suspended from competing after he tested positive for the substance.

A year later it was announced that Lee had been handed a backdated eight-month ban for his anti-doping rule violation. He was also stripped of his silver medal from the 2014 World Championships.

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