The UCI has announced a tightening of its No Needles Policy, extending the period in which a cyclist cannot compete after receiving an injection of glucocorticosteroids from two to eight days.
The change to the No Needles Policy, originally introduced to the governing body’s medical regulations in 2011, was approved by a meeting of the UCI’s Management Committee during the World Cyclo-cross Championships in Louisville, Kentucky earlier this month.
Glucocorticosteroids are anti-inflammatory steroid hormones naturally produced in the body through the adrenal glands, and can be used as anti-inflammatories to treat conditions including asthma and allergies, as well as in autoimmune disorders.
While research has suggested that in large doses they can cause cardiac ouput to increase, among other effects, their inclusion on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List results from potentially harmful side effects including feelings of euphoria which can prevent an athlete from feeling the pain from an injury.
Besides injections, glucocorticosteroids can be taken in tablet form, banned in competition unless the athlete has a Therapeutic Use Exemption, while they are permitted to be used topically as a cream to treat conditions such as rashes or haemorrhoids.
UCI President Pat McQuaid explained: “I requested the UCI Medical Commission to consider an extension of this period.
“A rider who raced at the weekend could receive an injection of glucocorticosteroids and be racing again in a mid-week competition.
“Glucocorticosteroids are used to treat inflammations, so a rider requiring this treatment should not be racing within eight days. He or she should be attending his/her condition and resting.”
The UCI says that the regulations are in force for all licensed riders at all times.
It added that one area of the No Needle Policy had been relaxed, with riders no longer required to report injections performed for the purpose of vaccination, such as against the flu.