Sports Coach Logo Sports Coach Training Principles Fitness Components


Ergogenic Aids

With better dope testing methods and the possibilities of detection and life ban from the sport, athletes and coaches are looking for legitimate ways to improve performance and hasten recovery. The various ways performance can be improved are known as Ergogenic Aids.

Ergogenic Aids may:

  • directly influence the physiological capacity of a particular body system, thereby improving performance
  • remove psychological constraints which impact performance
  • increase the speed of recovery from training and competition


Ergogenic aids fall into the following categories:

  • Mechanical Aids
    • Altitude Training
    • Aqua (water) Training
    • Heart Rate Monitors
    • Computers - analyse VO2 max, technique, test results etc.
    • Video recorders - analyse technique
    • Tyre towing - develop strength
    • Weights - develop strength
    • Hypoxic Tents - altitude training
    • Nasal Strips
    • Parachutes - develop strength
    • Elastic cord (pulling)- develop speed
    • Elastic cord (restraining) - develop strength
    • Downhill running (3° to 5° slope) - develop speed
    • Uphill running (5° to 10° slope) - develop strength
    • Treadmills
    • Weighted vests (5% to 8% of body weight) - develop strength
    • Compression garments - limited research exists on the ergogenic qualities for sports-specific exercise, with available research showing mixed results for an activity involving repeated robust efforts
    • Sports clothing, footwear and equipment
    • Timing equipment
    • Vibration Training


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) produces the World Anti-Doping Code, which governs all anti-doping practice aspects. The Code provides five international standards on:

  • Testing
  • Protection of Privacy and Personal Information
  • Laboratories
  • Therapeutic Use Exemption
  • The Prohibited List.

Prohibited List

The Prohibited List is published on the 1st of October and becomes effective from the 1st of January.

Some substances are banned in competition only, others are banned at all times, and some may be banned in specific sports.

Strict Liability

The Athlete is solely responsible for any prohibited substance found in their body.


Medication purchased or prescribed by a doctor in Canada, Japan, UK or USA can be checked against the Prohibited List on the Global Drug Reference Online website.

If you are taking medication prescribed by your doctor, on the prohibited list, and there is no alternative treatment, then contact your sport's national governing body regarding how to apply for Therapeutic Use Exemption.


There is no guarantee that a supplement, including energy drinks, is 100% free of a prohibited item(s). Informed-Sport may help reduce the risk of using such a supplement.

Who does it apply to, and when?

All athletes, beginner to elite, registered with their sport's governing body could be tested at any time with no limitation on the number of tests in a given period.

Testing Procedure

The British Athletics website provides a video of an athlete (Lynsey Sharp) experiencing a Doping Control Test.

Mobile App

"Clean Sport" , which provides up-to-date anti-doping advice, is a free application in iOS and Android versions.

Additional sources of information

Cautionary Notes

  • The WADA list of prohibited substances is based on Doping Classes and Doping Methods, not all substances belonging to the class are listed. Do not assume that because a substance is not listed, it is not prohibited. Lists of prohibited substances are periodically revised. Always check with the sport or the Sports Council's medical officer if you are in doubt. Athletes, this is your responsibility.
  • Different sporting organizations may ban other drugs. It is advisable to check with the relevant governing body. Medical officers should also liaise closely with their governing body regarding the appropriate prohibited classes.
  • Prohibited substances are not only contained in medicines that doctors may prescribe. They may be found in over-the-counter preparations. A family doctor or local pharmacist may not fully know medications' restrictions. Always check medications with the governing body's medical officer or the Sports Council.
  • Do not use overseas medications unless cleared by the governing body's medical officer. Do not rely on brand names of drugs available overseas. A proper brand name in the United Kingdom may contain a prohibited substance in its overseas version.
  • Beware vitamin preparations which can be purchased here or overseas. Some so-called 'vitamin' preparations and nutritional supplements may contain prohibited substances. There is no legal requirement for manufacturers to list all the food supplements' contents. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether they would contravene the doping regulations as all ingredients may not be indicated and may vary from batch to batch.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2001) Ergogenic Aids [WWW] Available from: [Accessed