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Needle-use declarations at the Olympic Games Rio 2016
  1. Molly Allen1,
  2. Mark Campbell Stuart2,3,
  3. Hannah Gribble4,
  4. Richard Budgett5,
  5. Andrew Pipe1,2,6
  1. 1Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Member IOC Medical Commission Games Medical Group, Rio 2016
  3. 3BMJ Learning, BMJ Group, London, UK
  4. 4United Kingdom Anti-Doping Organization, London, England
  5. 5International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  6. 6Division of Prevention & Rehabilitation, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Pipe, Division of Prevention & Rehabilitation, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, 40 Ruskin Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4W7, Canada; apipe{at}


Aim We report on the results of the ‘IOC Needle Policy’ applied during the course of the Games of the XXXI Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The policy was intended to empower physicians to ensure appropriate clinical use of needles within team medical environments, enhance the safety of those responsible for housekeeping services and others in the Olympic environment, and permit documentation of such procedures as an adjunct to the doping control programme. Any needle use required the submission of an ‘Injection Declaration Form’ to IOC medical officials.

Method All Injection Declaration Forms’ were reviewed and archived. The declarations provided basic information regarding the nature of the needle use and the product(s) involved, the physician, athlete and respective National Olympic Committee (NOC). The details of the declarations were subsequently categorised.

Results A total of 367 declarations were received from physicians representing 49 NOCs. Needle-use declarations were more common in athletics, gymnastics, football and aquatics. A single product was administered in 60% of the cases, and more than one product was administered in 40%. The majority of declarations indicated the use of local anaesthetics, glucocorticoids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics.

Conclusion The introduction of a ‘Needle Policy’ in the Olympic Games setting was intended to minimise the use of needles by non-physicians, promote evidence-based practice and to deter needle-based doping practices. Declarations were received from 49 of 209 NOCs suggesting either that needle use is minimal among certain teams or opportunities remain to enhance compliance with such policies at future games.

  • olympics
  • IOC
  • drug use
  • sport
  • athlete

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  • Contributors MA participated in the data analysis, manuscript preparation and review. HG participated in the data collection and manuscript review. MCS participated in the data collection, manuscript preparation and review. RB participated in the data collection, manuscript preparation and review. AP participated in the data collection and analysis, manuscript preparation and review.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.