Andrew Heyes has welcomed sport’s upcoming ban on tramadol and informed fellow athletes it “shouldn’t be one thing you’re looking at”.
The substance will probably be added to the World Anti-Doping Company’s (WADA) banned record on 1 January 2024, a choice which has the agency backing of the 2018 UK Indoor 3000m champion.
The 33-year-old lately competed on the 50km World Championships in Hyderabad the place a nasty case of cramp dashed his hopes of a person medal.
However the Hallamshire Harrier, who can also be a post-doctoral researcher in sport integrity at Leeds Beckett College, insists the banning of the substance is a step in the fitting route within the bid for cleaner sport.
“It was a fantastic expertise, although I’m barely dissatisfied with the end result,” he mentioned.
“I went out to win a person medal and ended up blowing up in direction of the second half of the race.
“Distance operating, whatever the distance, there may be all the time some form of ache you expertise.
“I’ve probably not come nose to nose with individuals utilizing tramadol throughout an occasion or have had anybody who has mentioned they’re taking tramadol to cope with that form of ache. However it’s fairly widespread to listen to individuals taking paracetamol or ibuprofen previous to a race, and through a number of the longer races as properly.
“There’s huge stress on the physique however coping with ache is among the challenges we face within the sport we’re competing in.
“It is likely to be for coping with an harm or a niggle when going into an occasion or it is likely to be that you just really feel wish to cope with the ache of being in that occasion you must take one thing beforehand however utilizing tramadol should not be one thing you’re looking at.”
Tramadol will be part of the Prohibited Checklist initially of subsequent 12 months following a WADA announcement in September 2022, with the purpose to present athletes ample time to regulate if obligatory.
That call got here in response to elevated issues about athlete welfare in addition to rising proof to counsel it may be efficiency enhancing.
And Heyes, who’s a UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Athlete Fee Member, admitted high-profile circumstances, equivalent to former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland’s battle with dependancy, actually hit residence in highlighting simply how harmful tramadol might be.
He added: “There’s a mixed subject occurring right here that it’s completely a welfare subject.
“That is fairly a severe painkiller drug by way of the addictive prospects and the extended use of opioids is fairly severe even for therapeutic use.
“It does appear to be efficiency enhancing as properly. There’s some proof popping out lately that it’s efficiency enhancing by way of decreasing the notion of effort.
“Chris Kirkland’s story is simply so eye-opening. It was so highly effective to see what he went via, nevertheless it was additionally actually highly effective for somebody to come back out and discuss this.
“It’s so good that now we have him right here to speak about his expertise of coping with that and what he sought by way of assist. These actually highly effective tales actually carry it residence.”
Instances like Kirkland’s, together with that of former England rugby union star Danny Cipriani, spotlight the difficulties going through our bodies equivalent to UKAD in coping with athletes who could also be breaking the principles when different components, equivalent to psychological well being points, could also be concerned.
However Heyes is assured there are higher safeguards in place to assist those that want it and pointed to schooling as the important thing going forwards.
“I hope that now in 2023 we’re beginning to have a compassionate method to sport, the place it’s not simply win in any respect prices,” he added.
“It’s actually essential that folks have the house and time to say, ‘it is a huge subject for me’ and know the place to go.
“There must be a bit extra work accomplished in offering that psychological well being assist and being there for athletes who really feel like they haven’t any different manner [than to break rules].
“The schooling of athletes is paramount. It’s rising by way of the significance positioned on schooling.
“When you may help athletes to make the fitting selections early on of their careers and method sport from a stance the place dishonest simply is not accepted, I might fairly there was a give attention to that fairly than continuously preventing a battle of banning substances coming via.”
Act now on tramadol ban. UK Anti-Doping Athlete Fee name to athletes to remain conscious of the upcoming ban on tramadol.