The Medical and Scientific Commission advises the IOC Session, the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President, supporting the change of philosophy to protecting clean athletes, as reflected by Olympic Agenda 2020.
The Medical and Scientific Commission actively supports the protection of clean athletes, the protection of the athletes’ health focusing on the prevention of injury and illness, and also supports the promotion of health and physical activity particularly as part of the legacy of the Olympic Games.
The Medical and Scientific Commission also supervises the provision of health care and anti-doping activities during the Olympic Games.
The Medical and Scientific Commission’s responsibilities encompass the following three fundamental principles:
- Protection of the health of athletes;
- Respect for both medical and sports ethics;
- Equality for all competing athletes.
The Medical and Scientific Commission is supported by the Medical and Scientific Department.
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The Olympic Movement Medical Code - Making the health of the athletes a priority
Discover the new version of the Olympic Movement Medical Code which applies to Olympic Games, beginning with the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games. The document defines basic rules regarding best medical practices in the domain of sport and the safeguarding of the rights and health of the athletes.”
IOC consensus statements have been published based on the works of the Medical and Scientific Commission. Find out more about these publications and reports.
Consensus Meeting on Harassment and Abuse in Sport
In October 2015, the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission organised a consensus meeting at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, that resulted in the following publication:
Consensus Meeting on Exercise and Pregnancy in Sport
In September 2015, the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission organised a consensus meeting at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, that resulted in the following publication:
Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism
In 2003 the IOC Medical Commission organised a consensus meeting in Stockholm that resulted in recommendations related to the eligibility for athletes who have undergone sex reassignment to compete under the new sex. In 2010, the IOC Medical Commission held a consensus meeting on Female Hyperandrogenism. As a result of this meeting, and prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games, the IOC implemented the IOC Regulations on Female Hyperandrogenism (hereafter the “Regulations”). These Regulations were subsequently updated for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, and published in September 2013.
Consensus meeting November 2015
In November 2015, the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission convened an expert group to review the available scientific and clinical evidence on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism in female athletes. Although there was not unanimity of opinion on all details discussed the statement reflects a consensus of those participating. However, following the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) interim award in the Chand v AFI and IAAF case, the IOC is not in a position to introduce rules on hyperandrogenism until the issues of the case are resolved.
Consensus statement on youth athletic development
The benefits of sports participation on the health, fitness and well-being of young people has been well proven; nonetheless, there are considerable challenges in trying to maintain inclusive, sustainable and enjoyable participation for all levels of athletic achievement.
In an effort to provide an evidence-based approach to youth athletic development, an IOC panel of medical and scientific experts convened in November 2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland, to evaluate the current state of the science and practice of young athlete development. This statement, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (May 2015), presents the resulting outcome of this meeting and outlines recommendations for developing healthy, resilient and capable young athletes, while providing opportunities for all levels of sports participation and success.
Consensus meeting on Hyperandrogenism in Women Athletes
In 2010, the IOC Medical Commission held a consensus meeting on Female Hyperandrogenism. As a result of this meeting, and prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games, the IOC implemented the IOC Regulations on Female Hyperandrogenism (hereafter the “Regulations”). These Regulations were subsequently updated for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, and published in September 2013.
Consensus meeting October 2013
In October 2013, the IOC Medical Commission convened an expert group to review the available scientific and clinical evidence on Hyperandrogenism and to update the Regulations, accordingly. In doing so, the expert group acknowledged that the Regulations are a living document, subject to change from time to time, as further evidence becomes available. The group’s recommendations will be presented to the IOC Executive Board in the first half of 2014.
Consensus statement on concussion in sport
This consensus statement is an outcome of the Fourth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, held in November 2012 in Zurich, and aimed at defining the best ways to manage and prevent cases of concussion in sport. Concussion, which is one of the most common injuries in sport with potential serious long-term consequences on the health of athletes, was until recently under-diagnosed and treated. It is now fully recognised as a very serious health threat, and sports federations are taking measures to protect athletes from adverse effects and to ensure that players recover adequately following an incident. The new 2012 Zurich Consensus statement, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (March 2013), is designed to build on the principles outlined in the previous research and to develop further conceptual understanding of the problem.
Consensus Statement on Body Composition Health and Performance in Sport
Body composition is an important health and performance variable. In weight-sensitive sports, many athletes use extreme methods to rapidly reduce or maintain a low body mass in order to gain a competitive advantage. This can lead to severe medical problems, with fatal consequences in extreme cases. To date, there is no universally applicable criterion or “gold standard” methodology for body composition assessment.
The authors of the paper conclude that the multi-component model (derived from body volume, total body water, bone mineral, and body mass) might be employed as a performance or selection criterion. However, when body composition is monitored to assess the effectiveness of an intervention, then other laboratory or field methods such as DXA, densitometry, anthropometry, or ultrasound may be more practical. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is not a useful means of assessing or monitoring body composition (it is only a measure of relative weight), nor are those methods that make assumptions about the density of fat-free mass in their computation.
Reproduced from Ackland TR, Lohman TG, Sundgot-Borgen J, et al: Current status of body composition assessment in sport. Review and position statement on behalf of the Ad Hoc Research Working Group on Body Composition Health and Performance, under the auspices of the IOC Medical Commission. Sports Med 2012:42 (3): 227 – 249, with permission from Springer International Publishing Switzerland (© 2011. All rights reserved).
IOC Consensus Statement on the “Health and fitness of young people through physical activity and sport”
12 September 2011
The expert paper defines the health consequences of inactivity; it identifies the determinants of sports participation and drop-outs, and provides recommendations on potential solutions and global partnerships. The ultimate purpose of this scientific effort is to improve the health and fitness of young people throughout the world, thereby decreasing the morbidity and mortality deriving from non-communicable diseases.
IOC Medical Commission Statement on female reproductive system in sport
At the April 2011 IOC Medical & Science Group meeting in Monaco, the issue of the continued exclusion of women from some sports on the grounds of the risk of injury to their reproductive system was raised and discussed. Following the recommendations from the medical and scientific experts at the meeting, the IOC Medical Commission agreed and adopted a statement on injuries to the female reproductive organs:
“No female athlete should be denied the opportunity to participate in any Olympic sport on the basis that she might sustain an injury to her reproductive organs. A survey of injury data has failed to find any evidence of an increased risk of acute or chronic damage to the female reproductive organs occurring as a direct result of participation in sport.”
IOC Consensus Statement on the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in sports medicine
“Acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries in sport are common and problematic for both athletes and clinicians. A significant proportion of these injuries remain difficult to treat, and many athletes suffer from decreased performance and longstanding pain and discomfort. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is now being widely used to treat musculoskeletal injuries in sport.
Whilst the role of PRP in tissue healing and regeneration may open up a new area in regenerative medicine, there remains a large amount of work to understand the mechanism of action of PRP in the regeneration and repair process of a given tissue. The IOC consensus paper delivers recommendations on this complex topic and is based on preliminary research conducted by experts in this field, such as the Aspetar Hospital in Doha, Qatar. »
IOC consensus statement on sports nutrition 2010
Diet significantly influences athletic performance. All athletes should adopt specific nutritional strategies before, during and after training and competition to maximise their mental and physical performance. Evidence-based guidelines on the amount, composition, and timing of food intake have been defined to help athletes perform and train more effectively, with less risk of illness and injury.
IOC Consensus Statement on Periodic Health Evaluation of Elite Athletes
16 July 2009
In March 2009, the International Olympic Committee assembled an expert group listed above to discuss the current state of the art of the pre-participation health evaluation aiming to provide recommendations for a practical elite athlete Periodic Health Examination (PHE), as well as to outline the need for further research. The PHE can serve many purposes. The PHE includes a comprehensive assessment of the athlete’s current health status and risk of future injury or disease and, typically, is the entry point for medical care of the athlete. The PHE also serves as a tool for periodic health evaluation and monitoring in athletes.
IOC expert group publishes consensus statement on knee injury
05 May 2008
Non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is a serious knee injury which affects young women in much higher numbers than young men, especially in sports like basketball, netball and team handball. A group of physicians, physical therapists, biomechanists and other scientists were invited by the IOC Medical Commission to discuss ACL, risk factors, prevention programmes and the need for further research. The expert panel concluded that improved education and greater awareness were key: "Athletes, coaches, and parents all play a vital role in the fight to prevent ACL injuries, which remains the largest single problem in orthopaedic sports medicine ».
IOC adopts Consensus Statement on sexual harassment and abuse in sport
08 February 2007
The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted a Consensus Statement on “Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport”. This unique document defines the problems, identifies the risk factors and provides guidelines for prevention and resolution. The aim of the Consensus is to improve the health and protection of athletes through the promotion of effective preventive policy as well as to increase the awareness of these problems among the people in the entourage of the athletes.
Consensus Statement adopted on "Training the Elite Child Athlete"
14 November 2005
Having identified “Training the Elite Child Athlete” as a theme to be carefully studied, the IOC Medical Commission (MC) held a meeting in Lausanne. Coordinated by Margo Mountjoy M.D, member of the IOC MC and Lyle Micheli M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, discussions involved a group of experts including leading paediatric sports medicine and scientific experts from around the world as well as a retired elite child athlete. During the meeting, relative scientific literature was reviewed and safe guidelines were produced for the training of the elite child athlete.
IOC Consensus Statement on the Female Athlete Triad
9 November 2005
Protecting the health of the athlete is the primary goal of the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission (IOC MC). While athletes should be encouraged to strive for excellence, there is an obligation on the part of coaches, team physicians, other health care providers, International Federations, and sport governing bodies to recognise pressures, actions, and situations that may be detrimental to the athlete’s health. One area of concern for many female athletes is the pressure to meet unrealistic weight or body fat levels.
IOC approves consensus with regard to athletes who have changed sex
17 May 2004
The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the consensus proposed by the IOC Medical Commission stating the conditions to be respected for a person who has changed sex to compete in sports competitions. These conditions will be applied as of the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad in 2004 in Athens. The consensus is based on an ad-hoc committee convened by the IOC Medical Commission that met on 28 October 2003 in Stockholm to discuss and issue recommendations on the participation of individuals who have undergone sex reassignment (male to female and vice versa) in sport.
Other IOC consensus statements
30 July 2014
The IOC and its Medical Commission are pleased to provide athletes with an updated brochure, developed under the leadership of the IOC ‘Nutrition’ working group, in close collaboration with the IOC Athletes’ Commission. This booklet contains information that will help athletes to make informed choices to meet their nutritional needs in different situations.
Download the brochure
Health Legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
2 June 2010
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the publisher of a 191-page book "The Health Legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Successes and Recommendations", which shows that public health in Beijing benefited from the Games. Benefits cited include improved medical and water services, attempts to restrict smoking and an increase in health awareness among athletes, visitors and China's residents.
Open the publication
Sports Dentistry and Sports Physiotherapy
25 July 2008
Teeth are just as important as any other part of the body to the athlete and his athletic performance. With this booklet, you will discover the appropriate tools to protect your teeth, improve dental health and prevent dental injuries. So take care of your teeth and they will take care of you!
Open the brochure
Sports Physiotherapy: treatment – prevention – recuperation
As risks are inherent to the practice of sport, one of the priorities of the IOC Medical Commission is to provide effective medical advice and care for the athlete. This brochure is therefore intended to minimise the risks of sports injuries for a maximum of sports participation, in particular at the Olympic Games.
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Encyclopaedia and Handbooks of sports medicine
1 March 2004
The IOC Medical Commission has been publishing the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine in collaboration with Blackwell Publishing, Ltd. (Oxford, England) since 1988. Each volume of the Encyclopedia includes up-to-date and state-of-the-art information on a particular medical/scientific area of sports medicine and sports science. A large team of internationally recognized experts contribute the 40-50 chapters that make up each volume. The Encyclopedia is intended for the use of sports medicine doctors, exercise and sport scientists, physiotherapists and athletic trainers, and graduate students in the sports sciences and allied health professions.
Discover the Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine
Handbooks of sports medicine and science
The IOC Medical Commission publishes handbooks devoted either to a single sport or to topics of importance for conditioning and preparation for competition in a variety of Olympic sports. Each Handbook presents basic clinical and scientific information in a clear style and format as related to specific sports events drawn from the Olympic Summer and Winter Games. Each handbook is written by a small team of authorities coordinated by an editor who has international respect and visibility in the particular sport activity. The contributors present practical information for medical doctors who work with athletes, team coaches who have academic preparation in basic science, physical therapists and other allied health personnel, and knowledgeable athletes. Each volume represents up-to-date information on the basic biology of the sport, conditioning techniques, nutrition, and the medical aspects of injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.
Discover the handbooks of sports medicine and science
4 March 2004
Since 1997, the IOC Medical Commission has been concerned about positive results that could be linked to the use of nutritional supplements. The present lack of regulation concerning these in certain countries, including the USA, has led the IOC to intervene, and it has issued warnings on several occasions, particularly with a view to alerting athletes. At the same time, the IOC has approached various government bodies, seeking the introduction of quality controls for these products like those applied to medicines.
Given the lack of response to its different approaches, the IOC decided to fund a study into a large number of samples. The conclusions of this study have just been published, and confirm the scale of the problem. In view of these findings, the measures taken previously will be pursued.
Until concrete results are achieved, the IOC will continue urging athletes to avoid using these nutritional supplements. At the same time, the IOC recommends that its partners within the Olympic Movement (International Sports Federations and National Olympic Committees) exercise extreme caution with regard to the firms that produce these nutritional supplements.
Analysis of Non-Hormonal Nutritional Supplements for Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids.