FIA reminds drivers about anti-doping rules

2011 F1 season

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Start, Melbourne, 2011

The FIA has written to drivers competing in all its events advising them on how to ensure they do not taken banned substances.

The governing body distributed its 2011 Prohibited List to all competitors, including F1 drivers.

F1 drivers are included on the FIA’s International Registered Testing Pool, which requires them to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s International Standard for Testing.

It reminded them: “You are responsible for any substance that enters your body, regardless of whether or not the substance has been taken or administered intentionally.

“If you need to use a medicine which is normally prohibited (because no permitted medicine can be used instead), you must fill in a Therapeutic Use Exemption request and send it to your National Anti-Doping Organisation (or directly to the FIA in certain cases specified in the regulations) for approval.

“The content of a specific drug can vary from one country to another, so try to bring with you any drugs you need to use while you are abroad.

“Even apparently benign drugs such as eyes drops, nose drops or throat pastilles can contain prohibited substances. Nutritional supplements do not always mention all the substances they contain. So always make sure that you know what you are taking”.

Although there have been many high-profile cases of competitors breaking anti-doping rules in other sports such as cycling and athletics, there have been few examples of the same in motor racing.

One of the most famous involved Tomas Enge, who was an F1 driver with Prost in 2001. The following year Enge was disqualified from his victory in the Formula 3000 race at the Hungaroring after testing positive for cannabis. The ten points he lost would have made him champion at the end of the year.

Last year International GT Open driver Christos Niarchos was given a six-month ban after also testing positive for cannabis.

The FIA’s anti-doping campaign “Race True” can be found here.

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Image © Red Bull/Getty images

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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101 comments on “FIA reminds drivers about anti-doping rules”

  1. Isn’t Alonso a friend of Alberto Contador? :D

    1. I believe they were going to establish a team together at one point …

    2. They are tight. They ride together.

  2. Looks like these drivers are all heavily into drugs!

    Seriously, will they have to announce their training programs and whereabouts for random checks, like other athletes have to do (cycling, athletics, ice skating, … )?

    1. I can picture Massa and Lewis having a doobie after every race.
      Also, I see no problem with drivers taking drugs, so long as they’re not performance enhancing..

      1. how would a performance enhancing drug help in F1?

        1. You can get drugs made to do anything focus the mind, quicken reflexes or make you stronger. The ones who took canabis are pretty stupid though that’s just giving everyone else in the field an advantage over you because it does the opposite of the effects of performance enhancers.

          1. Yeah, the brav gets it. But what if a driver wants to go to Amsterdam for “recreational activities”. I personally think they should be allowed, as long as it’s not within a day of them getting in the car

          2. In that sense, taking Cannabis isn’t really a problem, I can’t imagine that improving your performance in a car. Reading about that punishment again, I still found it silly.

            But then, thinking about it, it would seem pretty dangerous to drive with hallucinogenics in your blood, not just for yourself, but also for everyone else on the track.

          3. I agree. Alcohol doesn’t enhance their performance either and it’s not banned.

          4. I think your best bet is to write to the FIA explaining how drivers should be allowed cannabis. I’m sure it will work! :D

            In the end, it is a drug, illegal in many countries… Do you really think it’s a good idea for Motorsports top athletes being an advertisement for it?

        2. it may enhance performance…

    2. The F1 drivers have had to announce whereabouts (but not training program details) since 2009.

  3. Is this action of reminding the drivers simply routine, or has someone been taking something they shouldn’t have?

    1. I imagine we would have heard about it.

    2. It seems like they’re being more vigilant about testing and so on. A positive test for an F1 driver would reflect badly on F1 (or any other kind of motor racing where it took place) and there’s been a lot of it in other sports.

      I understand NASCAR extends the tests to crew members and has suspended some who were tested positive, including one as recently as May. Someone who follows NASCAR can probably fill in the details…

      1. I think this is a warning shot, that the FIA will start to work systematically agains drug use in motorsport.

        It seems they have been critisized by others for having no clear procedures and random tests

        1. From what I have heard the fias anti doping agency are pretty teutonic. They check anyone anytime anyplace that they desire, even if it means literaly dragging you naked kicking and screaming out of your bed at 2 am.

          This reminder may have come about due to a few kg’s of cannabis and a handgun being found in one of the motogp team trucks.

          1. I think it was World Superbike, Kawasaki in particular, rather than MotoGP.

  4. *the collective sound of drivers hiding needles*

    1. No Driver wants to be found out while knitting.

      1. Haha Hare! Also, I haven’t seen you in ages, and we all miss you on Twitter. Can you come back please? :)

      2. LOL, nice one. And I agree with Damon about how nice it is to see you back here!

      3. 3rded, please return to the twtittersphere at once!

  5. They’ll all be filling up test bottles with apple juice!

  6. haven’t rally co-drivers been illegally taking anti-nausea drugs for ages?

    heaven forbid someone want to light up a joint on their own time. didn’t someone win le mans while grabbing a fresh bottle of champagne at every pit stop?

    also, i miss kimi :(

    1. Maybe that’s why Kimi really went to rallying… ;-)

      1. Which is also run by the FIA… ;-)

      2. Surely abusing alcohol is not taken as doping is it? I mean, the entire pitwall will have to be suspended – lets start with Lewis, Sutil and Eric Lux in China!

        1. Excessive alcohol in-competition (defined as being from 12 hours before a competition to the point where it finishes) is taken as an anti-doping violation.

          1. And a good thing too. As I said above about Cannabis, I think for safety it is pretty important to have drivers sober and alert.

            Safety (and health) seem to me personally to be a more important reason to battle doping than performance enhancing which in theory every one could (would?) do, if allowed.

          2. A very good thing, but like alcohol, I don’t see the harm of drivers using cannabis if it’s outside the window of effect when they are in the car. It’s certainly not performance enhancing.

  7. Forget performance drugs, the FIA should be making sure the drivers don’t drink any of that horrible Red Swill or other horrible energy drinks, for their own good ;)

    1. i second that.

      i don’t know about UK/EU, but here in the states “supplements” are totally unregulated, being neither food nor drugs. you can brew up any damn crap you like and claim absolutely anything, especially when you have endorsements by very questionable doctors.

      1. Vettel is so energitic… He is drinking it for free..

      2. Supplements are regulated in the UK if health benefits are claimed for them or if significant danger is proved regarding them. Red Bull is classified as a drink because taurine is considered no more dangerous than, say, caffeine, and the stimulating benefits are claimed for the drink as a whole rather than any one ingredient.

    2. Its illegal in france so thats one race they cant drink it in.

      1. Actually the French ban on Red Bull was lifted in July 2008…

        …one month after F1’s last race in France!

    3. Red Bull is pretty grim stuff to drink.

      1. Red Bull gave me a caffeine intolerance, I used to live on the stuff as I used to work 18 hour days sometimes. Now if I touch anything with caffeine in it I get very bad side effects. I blame Red Bull!

        1. I’m on a passive boycott of RedBull after what they did to Austria Salzburg. Not that I drink energy-drinks anyway :)

          1. I really dislike the smell of the stuff, can’t stand it.

        2. Perhaps you should blame yourself for your caffeine intolerance since I doubt Red Bull held you down and forced their product into your throat. Voluntarily drink any coffee as well? You, and no one else is responsible for your own actions.

          1. Acquisition of caffeine intolerance isn’t something one can predict prior to getting it. Food intolerances are an inexact science at this point, so blaming hey for it is wrong, IceBlue.

      2. It’s great with Jaegermeister though… ;)

    4. The thing is energy drinks aren’t actually bad for athletes if taken before/during an event or training. It’s only if you sit on your back side playing world of warcraft till 6am drinking 2×6 packs of redbull that you have a problem. *Then* you’re asking for a heart attack yes.

      1. Not nessicerily IceBlue, you have warnings on alcohol and tobacco but nothing on energy drinks or even your standard fizzy drinks. To be honest if abused they will do damage quicker and most people simply don’t realise that.

  8. So F1 drivers are supposed to use less … speed?

    I’m so sorry for that one.

  9. If Enge took cannabis I can imagine it would have relaxed his nerves but if anything it would have been to the detriment of his performance and sharpness behind the wheel? Anti-doping is a bit ironic here ;)

    1. Agree. I really doubt any amount of weed is an advantage behind the wheel, there is no way your reflexes are going to be as sharp, or your focus that intense with cannabis in your system.

      Gotta feel bad for Enge there, losing a WDC for smoking some weed with friends, will have to be really heartbreaking.

      1. The biggest problem with measuring cannabis use (and coke is the same) is that you can tell someone used it, but the test are nearly worthless for telling you when in the last fortnight – 1 month it was.

        And that is aside from the point that cannabis is not at all performance enhancing and perfectly fine to use in several countries.

        1. Man, this iszzzzz faaaaaaaaast…. you know…. Maaaaaan where did you get this?!
          (while cruisin around at 5 miles an hour)

      2. The only thing is that you could be potentially a danger to others on the track, but if this were the case then you’d have had to have literally be completely baked mid race which of course is completely unlikely.

        1. Well, I do think that’s a valid reason to not allow it, personally. Just like you wouldn’t want drivers to use one of those products that say you shouldn’t be participating in traffic until several hours after it stopped working while on track.

  10. That is ludicrous.

  11. Athletes – and anyone else really – can be legitimately tested for performance-enhancing drugs (if there are any for drivers) and drug use which might pose a danger to others, but beyond that it is ridiculous. They don’t even test for alcohol…

    Do the engineers get tested? How about marshalls? Why just the drivers?

    1. Totally agree. Drivers should not:

      1) Be intoxicated or otherwise impaired by anything at all when they are at the track, for saftety reasons.

      2) Take performance enhancing drugs, for sporting reasons.

      Beyond that, I dont think it’s anyone’s business what drivers do away from the track.

      I want to make it clear – I am not advocating recreational drug use for anyone, least of all athletes. I just dont like when employers reach into their employees personal lives without a bona fide reason.

    2. Well, Alianora remarked above that actually, they aren’t allowed to use large amount of alcohol before the race – and they could quite clearly test that, even if so far they haven’t done that reguarly.

      Then again, I don’t think teams and sponsors would look kindly on a driver drunk during a weekend, if they already didn’t like seeing Kimi having an ice cream after an early race finish, so it might pretty self regulating so far.

  12. I’d have a great deal more respect for the anti-doping organisations if they stuck to their original remit of preventing the use of performance enhancing drugs and stopped acting as an arm of the puritanical movement.

    Cannabis is legally available in several European nations and in several other places around the world and therefore, in my opinion, banning someone for testing positive for Cannabis is as ridiculous as banning someone for testing positive for alcohol.

    Obviously they shouldn’t be getting stoned before they go out in the car just as they shouldn’t be getting drunk before getting in the car but how they choose to get high during their own time is of no concern to me and is irrelevant to sport.

    Last time the motoGP was at Donnington half of the people in the grandstand I was sitting in were smoking Cannabis and there were more illegal recreational drugs being passed around the campsite than at Glastonbury.

    1. Obviously they shouldn’t be getting stoned before they go out in the car just as they shouldn’t be getting drunk before getting in the car but how they choose to get high during their own time is of no concern to me and is irrelevant to sport.


  13. no wonder kimi left.. hahaha

    1. Haha! COTD ;)

  14. I’d love to see the full list of the prohibited sustances and then look for them in a Red Bull can…!

    1. McLarenFanJamm
      16th June 2011, 9:16

      There is a website called GlobalDRO (Global Drug Reference Online), where you can search for any kind of drug and see whether it is banned depending on your sport and place the drug was purchased (different drugs have different ingredients depending on the country they’re sold in). Only problem with that is that you need to know the name of the drug you’re looking for. But that’s the closest I’ve found to a list of banned susbstances being available on line.

      1. Alternatively, the WADA has a list of banned substances available, in both PDF and mobile formats. This is the same list as the FIA uses for its monitoring scheme and doesn’t require you to guess the drug name. However it only has the medical names for each drug.

  15. Back in the 1950s, five time champion Juan Manuel Fangio is believed to have used yerba mate, a legal (but strong) drug, to improve his stamina.

    Just seen this in the article related to this one. Mate is like drinking coffee or tea. It’s not that strong either…

    1. I used to sell a tea with that in. Such a punch to it.

  16. I totally agree with Beneboy here. I see no reason why cannabis is struck down upon. If you’re banning that, you need to ban alcohol use, too. It’s absolutely absurd, especially given the pressures of young drivers.

    By no means am I encouraging it (like i’d ever have an influence anyway!) but to suspend someone/deduct points for that, is ludicrus.

    1. Motor sport does ban alcohol in-competition (and there are no rules banning cannabis out of competition, for that matter).

  17. May I just re-phrase:

    Cannabis use in private, not in public.

    I would completely understand if they were snapped by the press having a smoke in public. That’d just be completely foolish and i’d understand why that’d have a negative influence on the sport, as in some places, it is still illegal.

  18. Has any driver ever been found to have taken illegal drugs (recreational, or to cheat) and then penalised?

    I know it’s a common thing in athletics but I don’t think I’ve ever heard about it in motorsports.

    1. Apart from the two cases mentioned in the article, if you follow the link to “Race True” I think there’s some more examples there.

  19. Word on the grapevine is that drivers used to be encouraged to take cocaine/speed before races to try and drive ‘on the edge’ a little more.

    Think I got that from Brundle’s book. I think.

    1. Speed wouldn’t help your reflexes a lot, although it might provide that extra energy for making it through an entire race distance. I kind of find it hard to believe that racers would use coke and speed as an advantage.

    2. Wasn’t some wannabe driver who never made it to become F1 the source for the story? Can’t remember anymore….

  20. Well, in My fair state of California medicinal marijuana is very legal. I can’t really see a benefit to driving stoned though. Especially considering the stupifying effects of todays herb.

    1. I guess that would fall under the medicine use they have to inform the FIA of if being used! :-)

  21. I don’t know why this is coming up now. FIA have an habit of coming off at the wrong moment. I just hope they are not attributing Lewis recent altercation on the track as the effect of drugs. I just hope not.

    1. They’ve been working on the anti-doping for a few years now, so any apparent attributions are coincidental.

  22. I’ve never heard that the drivers even get tested, i know rally drivers get breathalysed in the event of an accident because they’re on a public road in some cases but this is the first i’ve heard about anti-doping or tests in 20 years of following F1. I predict problems in the future.

    1. graham228221
      15th June 2011, 20:16

      I don’t see this as particularly ominous. I think it’s right that they are doing the tests, and making sure that the drivers are reminded of this. F1 is such a small field of atheletes that even one incident would have a huge negative impact.

  23. Red bull should be a banned substance. that stuff is lethal and it is being sold to kids.

    1. that stuff is lethal

      you got any verifiable sources to back that statement up? smoking has been indicted in far more causes of death yet remains legal.

      1. There have been isolated cases of drinking excessive caffeine (in Red Bull) killing people, but then there have also been cases of drinking excessive water killing people.

        There was a recommended maximum amount of Red Bull in the UK a few years back (I seem to remember the equivalent of 4 cans or 2 bottles being that limit) because of the worries about certain elements. It’s difficult to say whether taurine is any more dangerous than either caffeine or water because of the fact that Red Bull also contains caffeine.

  24. Maybe Lewis has Roid Rage and that’s why he’s acting like such a douche.

    1. Haha! I laughed so hard when I thought of Lewis having “Roid Rage” ahhahahha

  25. I do have a great deal of sympathy for athletes and other sports men, who are forced to compromise on the daily experience for fear of ingesting some banned substance.
    You are not even sure if the restaurant you visit doesn’t have some exotic dish that may just make you test positive to a banned substance.
    This is made even worse, because majority of these banned substances aren’t even performance enhancing, rather they are just masking agents.
    What is needed is a way to group the drugs to particular types of sports.

    1. Some of them are. Motor racing is one of about a dozen sports with sport-specific drugs. That said, some of the drugs that are banned for performance enhancement or masking in other contexts would be simply hazardous in a motor racing context. The FIA is unlikely to permit a currently-banned substance if the side effects of it compromise safety.

  26. So can anyone confirm that the Drivers have been getting tested and if so, since when?

    1. The F1 drivers had in-competition testing since at least 1995. We know that because two drivers (Max Papis and Rubens Barrichello) became the only two F1 drivers ever to get a “positive” result. This was due to a poor choice of flu medicine. Back then, less was known about illegal drugs in over-the-counter medicines and the “knowingly or unknowingly” bit didn’t exist in the FIA’s rules, so the pair were let off.

      Out-of-competition testing in F1 was introduced at the start of 2009, including “whereabouts” notification rules. There were 6 in-competition and 1 out-of-competition test in the first half of 2009, and I believe the frequency since then has been similar.

      Other branches of international motor sport also have testing and “whereabouts” rules, though it may be less frequent there.

      1. thanks for clearing this up, I wondered about it as well.

        It’s probably to be considered a good thing we (the fans in general) did not know much about it, because it means there were no big cases of misuse being found out. Nor were drivers complaining of the tests ruining their training schedules or whatever.

  27. I know that this is completely unrelated to anything… But I just noticed a No7 Boots advert without Keeley Hawes in it! The disgrace!! How dare they! My F1F name is what it is for good reason!

  28. Many other games nowadays have been a victim of this most famously cricket & football so it’s a good move by the FIA to keep things like this away from them.

  29. I think anti-doping campaigns, especially for a sport like F1, is a case of the cure being worse than the disease, for the following 2 reasons:

    1. I do not believe taking dope can give you an advantage over a driver with a solid diet and fitness regime.
    2. If you test positive, there is a chance something entered you body without your knowledge (the “polluted meat” from Contador – do we really want such a circus surrounding the F1 world champion?)
    3. Nobody is stupid enough to light up a joint during, say, a two-hour red flag suspension, so I do not see anyone driving under the influence (which is I believe why you argue for life-time sentencing, Keith?). If drivers are silly enough to smoke weed at a party then there are other rules to punish them (bringing the sport into disrepute).

    Ah, that’s 3 (4. fanatical devotion to the pope, 5. nice red costumes – I’ll come in again).

    1. But “anti-doping” doesn’t just refer to “dope” i.e. cannabis; it just so happens that the most recent and most well-known examples cited above do.

      Having said that, perhaps the crux of the matter when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs and motor racing is that taking them offers too little reward and too much risk for a racing driver.

      They require finesse and mental agility as well as brute strength and stamina. The kind of drugs often used in cycling and athletics would not be favoured by a racing driver seeking to gain an illegal advantage, because it could compromise them in other areas.

      Plus, the risks of losing control of a racing car at 200mph are obviously far greater (not to say that cycling isn’t dangerous; I understand there was a fatality in one of the major events this year).

      That said, new drugs are developed all the time, so who knows what might be around the corner, or out there already?

      Oh, and bonus points for Monty Python references as always.

      1. When I was a Hobie Cat 16 competitor, the most used drug by the field was beta blockers (is it the right translation?) . I think they would give you an edge during a F1 race. Cannabis certainly wouldn’t.

        1. They keep heart rates/bloodpressure down, right?

          1. Yes, in a certain measure. They keep concentration up too and remove a bit of stress.

  30. InfiniFC (@)
    17th June 2011, 10:45

    Anti-Doping campaigns can certainly cause problems, just look at all that cycling has gone through since the Festina affair in 1998, however I don’t think you can say that there aren’t many drugs out there that would be beneficial for a formula 1 driver. One of the most commonly used drugs in endurance sport is Erythropoetin (epo) which boosts red blood cell production and mimics the effects of altitude training. Everybody on here knows that F1 is HARD and I don’t doubt that a driver would welcome the opportunity for more stamina toward the end of the race as well as lower HR and respiratory rate during the race. Ask Luca Badoer. I wouldn’t put it past them to consider steroids at strategic times also. They’re not short of the cash to commission a designer steroid to help them build strength and recover from training stress. Steroids are easily detected in urine, but can only be tested for if their chemical structure is known. That’s what happened in the BALCO scandal, the designer steroid simply wouldn’t show up in tests.
    That said, I’d like to think that F1 drivers aren’t doping, although anyone being friends with Contador should open them up to suspicion, that guy couldn’t get any dirtier.

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