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Compliance with needle-use declarations at two Olympic Winter Games: Sochi (2014) and PyeongChang (2018)
  1. Wolfgang Schobersberger1,
  2. Cornelia Blank1,
  3. Richard Budgett2,
  4. Andrew Pipe3,
  5. Mark Campbell Stuart4
  1. 1 Department of Psychology and Medical Sciences, Insitute for Sports Medicine, Alpine Medicine and Health Tourism, UMIT - Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall, Austria
  2. 2 International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3 University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 IOC Medical and Scientific Commission Games Group, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Wolfgang Schobersberger, Insitute for Sports Medicine, Alpine Medicine and Health Tourism, Private Universitat fur Gesundheitswissenschaften Medizinische Informatik und Technik GmbH, Hall 6060, Austria; wolfgang.schobersberger{at}


Objectives We describe compliance with the ‘IOC Needle Policy’ at two Winter Olympic Games (Sochi and PyeongChang) and compare these findings to those of the Summer Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro.

Method All needle-use declaration(s) (NUD) received during the course of the 2014 and 2018 Olympic Games were reviewed. We recorded socio-demographic data, the nature and purpose of needle use, product(s) injected, and route of administration. Data were analysed descriptively.

Results In total, doctors from 22 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) submitted 122 NUD involving 82 athletes in Sochi; in PyeongChang, doctors from 19 NOCs submitted 82 NUD involving 61 athletes. This represented approximately 2% of all athletes at both Games, and 25% and 20% of all NOCs participating in Sochi and PyeongChang, respectively. No marked differences in the NUD distribution patterns were apparent when comparing the two Winter Olympic Games. The most commonly administered substances were as follows: local anaesthetics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and glucocorticoids. Physicians submitted multiple NUD for 24% of all athletes who required a NUD.

Conclusion A limited number of NOCs submitted NUD suggesting a low incidence of needle use or limited compliance (approximately 2%). A key challenge for the future is to increase the rate of compliance in submitting NUD. More effective education of NOCs, team physicians and athletes regarding the NUD policy, its purpose, and the necessity for NUD submissions, in association with the enforcement of the appropriate sanctions following non-compliance are needed.

  • IOC
  • Olympics
  • drug use

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  • Contributors WS participated in the data collection, data analysis, manuscript preparation and review. CB participated in the data analysis, manuscript preparation and review. AP participated in the data collection and manuscript review. RB participated in the data collection and manuscript review. MS participated in the data collection, manuscript preparation and review.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests No, there are no competing interests for any author.

  • Patient consent for publication Not Required

  • Ethics approval information The study is based on an analysis of an administrative database and the manuscript contains no personal medical data information about identifiable persons. The results utilise completely anonymised data regarding the completion of the NUD by physicians at the respective Olympic Games. Thus, ethical approval is not applicable.

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

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.