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Drug Use and Misuse in the Mountains

For many years, drugs have been used to enhance performance in mountaineering. The UIAA (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – Union International des Associations d’Alpinisme) MedCom developed evidence-based guidelines for drug use and misuse in mountains. They conclude: “If using drugs not regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), individuals have to determine their own personal standards for enjoyment, challenge, acceptable risk, and ethics. No system of drug testing could ever, or should ever, be policed for recreational climbers. Sponsored climbers or those who climb for status need to carefully consider both the medical and ethical implications if using drugs to aid performance. In some countries (e.g., Switzerland and Germany), administrative systems for mountaineering or medication control dictate a specific stance, but for most recreational mountaineers, any rules would be unenforceable and have to be a personal decision, but should take into account the current best evidence for risk, benefit, and sporting ethics.”

The complete review can be read at High Altitude Medicine & Biology.

Donegani E, Paal P, Küpper T, Hefti U, Basnyat B, Carceller A, Bouzat P, van der Spek R, Hillebrandt D. Drug Use and Misuse in the Mountains: A UIAA MedCom Consensus Guide for Medical Professionals. High Alt Med Biol. 2016;17(3):157-184.