Catching and treating a common cold is nothing to sneeze at, especially for cyclists, get it wrong and you could be labeled a “doper” and be banned from the sport.

Just ask 58 year-old Italian Luigino D’Ambrosio.

The amateur MTB gran fondo cyclist and Rampiclub Val Vibrata team president has been provisionally suspended by the Italian Anti Doping Organization (NADO) after returning a positive result for pseudoephedrine, a banned drug commonly used in over-the-counter cold medicine.

Pseudoephedrine is a central nervous stimulant prohibited for In-Comptition use at urinary thresholds above 150 µg/mL based on studies showing high doses boost sports performance with immediate affect. Specifically, for endurance athletes it helps improve exercise tolerance and delay fatigue.

Given the wide and easy availability of pseudoephedrine at local pharmacies, particularly as a component of multi-ingredient cold, cough and influenza medicine, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) advises amateur cyclist to avoid returning an inadvertent positive anti-doping test result by following the guidelines below:

  • Athletes should stop taking pseudoephedrine-containing medicines at least 24 hours before competition.
  • The 150 µg/mL threshold has been established based on typical therapeutic doses of pseudoephedrine, defined as a maximum daily dose of 240 mg pseudoephedrine taken as:
    • four daily oral doses (one every 4-6 hours) of a 60 mg immediate release or
    • two daily doses (one every 12 hours) of a 120 mg extended release or
    • one daily 240 mg extended release dose

Athletes must also keep in mind that WADA applies a Strict Liability – Ignorance Is No Excuse policy to all doping violations, which states: 1) An anti-doping rule violation occurs whenever a prohibited substance is found in an athlete’s bodily specimen. 2) The violation occurs whether or not the athlete intentionally or unintentionally used a prohibited substance or was negligent or otherwise at fault.

A NADO anti-doping hearing has yet to be scheduled for D’Ambrosio, where he may present his case and receive a verdict, including a possible multi-year ban from competition.

Photos/Media: stock