A Paralympian expressed concerns that taking a coronavirus vaccine might lead to a drugs ban for Tokyo, but authorities say that’s ‘extremely unlikely’

Covid Vaccine

  • Questions are being raised over whether coronavirus vaccines might contain substances which are banned for use by athletes.
  • This raises the spectre of athletes having to choose between taking a coronavirus vaccine and facing a doping ban.
  • It currently appears "extremely unlikely" that any coronavirus vaccine would break doping rules, UK Anti-Doping, the British doping regulator said.
  • Tully Kearney, a world Para-swimming champion for Great Britain, has voiced her concern that she may have to choose between her health and competing in Tokyo. 
  • "So do I risk potential serious illness/death from Covid or a doping ban and miss out on going to Tokyo?!" she tweeted.
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Questions are being raised over whether coronavirus vaccines might contain substances which are banned for use by athletes, therefore risking drug bans for both Olympians and Paralympians ahead of the Tokyo games next summer.

In a tweet this week, Tully Kearney, a seven-time world para-swimming champion for Great Britain, voiced her concerns that she may have to choose between her health and risking a ban that would see her miss Tokyo.

Kearney, who has cerebral palsy, is considered extremely vulnerable, so is likely to be among the first people in the UK offered a coronavirus vaccine.

However, she said she is "shocked" that she might be asked to get the vaccine before knowing whether it is safe for her to take it without fear of a doping ban.

"WADA is currently liaising with pharmaceutical companies to determine whether the constituents of the vaccines in development are prohibited in sport, and whether the technologies being used will pose any complications for detecting doping," Nick Wojek, the organization's head of science and medicine said in the statement.

He added, however, that it currently appears "extremely unlikely" that any coronavirus vaccine would break doping rules.

"WADA has already confirmed that it is extremely unlikely that the RNA- or DNA sequences used for such vaccines violate anti-doping regulations," UKAD said.

WADA itself did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Insider on Friday, but according to Indian newspaper, The New Indian Express, the agency said it is in contact with major pharma companies developing COVID vaccines.

"The matter of athletes using a vaccine for Covid-19 has been raised in the anti-doping context," the newspaper cites a WADA spokesperson as saying.

"Once we know the exact constituents of the vaccines, we will be able to make sure that no ingredient in their composition is on the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods."

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