Medication use by athletes at the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games

Clin J Sport Med. 2009 Jan;19(1):33-8. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31818f169e.


Objective: To gather data and examine the use by elite Olympic athletes of food supplements and pharmaceutical preparations in total and per sport, country, and gender.

Design: Survey study.

Setting: Athens 2004 Olympic Games (OG).

Participants: Data from 2 sources were collected: athletes' declaration of medications/supplements intake recorded on the Doping Control Official Record during sample collection for doping control, and athletes' application forms for granting of a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) and through the abbreviated TUE process (aTUE).

Main outcome measures: Classification of declared food supplements according to the active ingredient and medications according to therapeutic actions and active compounds.

Results: 24.3% of the athletes tested for doping control declared no use of medications or food supplements. Food supplements (45.3%) continue to be popular, with vitamins (43.2%) and proteins/aminoacids (13.9%) in power sports being most widely used. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory agents and analgesics were also commonly used by athletes (11.1% and 3.7%, respectively). The use of the hemoderivative actovegin and several nonprohibited anabolic preparations are discussed. The prevalence of medication use for asthma and the dangers of drug interactions are also presented.Laboratory analysis data reveal that of the aTUEs received for inhaled glucocorticosteroids, only budesonide was detectable in significant percentage (10.0%). Only 6.5% of the 445 athletes approved to inhale beta2-agonists led to an adverse analytical finding.

Conclusions: This review demonstrates that overuse of food supplements was slightly reduced compared to previous OGs and a more rational approach to the use of medication is being adopted.

MeSH terms

  • Anniversaries and Special Events
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control
  • Drug Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Sports*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations