The Medical and Scientific Commission’s mission is to provide a guiding reference for all other sports organisations on matters relating to the protection of the health of athletes.
The Commission advises the IOC Session, the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President on athletes’ health, the promotion of health and physical activity, and the protection of clean athletes in support of Agenda 2020. In undertaking this role, the Commission considers itself to have the following key responsibilities:
- Supervising the provision of health care and doping control services during the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games.
- Delivering evidence-based education to athletes and their entourage.
- Developing and promoting the adoption of ethical standards in sports science and medicine.
- Exploring the potential of new technologies to optimise athletes’ health, and preventing their potential damaging effects.
- Promotion of health and physical activity for the whole population
What objectives do we want to achieve by having these responsibilities :
- Provision of excellent healthcare and doping control at Games to athletes and their entourage
- Better informed and educated athletes and entourage leading to effective prevention of injury and illness, better health care and faster recovery.
- Good medical practice to the highest ethical standards by individuals and organisations responsible for athletes’ health.
- Effective new technologies implemented in healthcare and anti-doping.
Prevention of harm to health of new technologies
- Increase physical activity and improve health in the general population
What key strategic priority actions will be taken to achieve these Objectives:
- Olympic Games knowledge management
Communication with OCOGs including pre-games visits and Games time monitoring.
- Increase research and surveillance
Maximise relevance and dissemination of consensus statements and publications
Focused and effective conferences/meetings and courses
- Adoption and implementation of Olympic Movement Medical Code by all stakeholders for good
medical practice and to respect medical standards.
- Establish Research expert groups to explore and disseminate new technologies in health care and anti-doping, and identify potential dangers and harms.
- Legacy including increased physical activity and health in the general population from the Games through Global Active Cities Initiative (GACI) and improved sport and exercise medicine
The Medical and Scientific Commission is supported by the Medical and Scientific Department.
IOC consensus statements have been published based on the works of the Medical and Scientific Commission. Find out more about these publications and reports.
IOC Consensus Meeting on serious knee injuries in children
The number of serious knee injuries i.e. anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in active children practising a variety of sports is rising. In October 2017, the IOC convened an expert group of international surgical leaders and specialised physiotherapists in treating and preventing these injuries to address this as no agreements currently exist on prevention and treatment methods i.e. surgery or nonoperative and rehabilitation. There is also limited information on the psychological impact of such injury on children. The meeting resulted in an international consensus statement that should set the stage for future research and summarise the current knowledge in this field. Read a summary of the Consensus meeting here.
Consensus meeting on Dietary Supplements
The use of dietary supplements is widespread among elite athletes, as it is in the general population. In May 2017, the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission organised a consensus meeting at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, that resulted in the following statement.
Consensus meeting on Pain Management
Pain is a common problem among elite athletes and is frequently associated with sport injury. Both pain and injury interfere with the performance of elite athletes. There are currently no evidence-based or consensus-based guidelines for the management of pain in elite athletes. Typically, pain management consists of the provision of analgesics, rest and physical therapy. More appropriately, a treatment strategy should address all contributors to pain including underlying pathophysiology, biomechanical abnormalities and psychosocial issues, and should employ therapies providing optimal benefit and minimal harm. To advance the development of a more standardised, evidence-informed approach to pain management in elite athletes, the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission organised a consensus meeting at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne in May 2017, which critically evaluated the current state of the science and practice of pain management in sport and prepared recommendations for a more unified approach to this important topic. Please find the statement here.
IOC Consensus meeting on the Health Consequences of a saturated Sports Calendar
In 2016, the IOC convened an expert group to review the scientific evidence for the relationship of load and health outcomes in sport. This paper summarises the results linking load to risk of illness and overtraining in athletes, and provides athletes, coaches and support staff with practical guidelines for appropriate load management to reduce the risk of illness and overtraining in sport. These include guidelines for prescription of training and competition load, as well as for monitoring of training, competition and psychological load, athlete well-being and illness. In the process, urgent research priorities were identified.
Read the Consensus Statement here: part 1 and part 2
IOC consensus statement on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), beyond the Female Athlete Triad
In 2015, the IOC convened a group of experts to update the female athlete triad consensus statement. Based on the available science, this group introduces a broader, more comprehensive term for the condition previously known as “Female Athlete Triad”. The term “Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport” (RED-S), points to the complexity involved and the fact that male athletes are also affected. The syndrome of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) refers to impaired physiological function including, but not limited to, metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, cardiovascular health caused by relative energy deficiency.
Read the Consensus Statement here
Read more information on RED-S by the original authors here
For the athlete treatment team, please find a clinical tool to assist with the diagnosis and management of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S CAT). Please click on the link to find the explanation, instructions and English version : http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/7/421.full.pdf+html
This tool is available in the following languages: French, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Japanese and German.
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.
IOC consensus statement on Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease
In April 2013, the IOC convened a consensus meeting on non-communicable chronic disease (NCD) prevention. Morbidity and mortality from preventable, NCD threatens the health of our populations and our economies. The IOC's focus is to create solutions that gain traction within healthcare systems. The group of participants attending the meeting achieved consensus on a strategy for the prevention and management of chronic disease that includes the following: (1) Focus on behavioural change as the core component of all clinical programmes for the prevention and management of chronic disease. (2) Establish actual centres to design, implement, study and improve preventive programmes for chronic disease. (3) Use human-centred design in the creation of prevention programmes with an inclination to action, rapid prototyping and multiple iterations. (4) Extend the knowledge and skills of Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) professionals to build new programmes for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease focused on physical activity, diet and lifestyle. (5) Mobilise resources and leverage networks to scale and distribute programmes of prevention.
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.
Consensus Meeting on Fasting and Sport
In April 2009, the IOC Medical Commission organised a consensus meeting at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, that resulted in the following publication:
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.
2017 Call for Applications: The IOC Medical and Scientific Research Fund to support and protect clean athletes
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), as the leader of the Olympic movement and the sport sector at large, is committed to the protection of athletes’ health particularly through injury and illness prevention and the fight against doping in sport.
In support of this aim, the IOC has committed to fund selected research in the areas of injury and illness prevention and anti-doping research for the protection of clean athletes.
The IOC Medical and Scientific Commission is calling on researchers to apply now for support and funding of athlete-centred projects. Multi-centre collaborative projects which aim to deliver research in these areas and which have the potential to directly benefit Olympic athletes, are encouraged. Funding of suitable projects will in principle be limited to a maximum of USD 100,000.
The deadline for applications is 15 September 2017. A second round of applications will open in 2018.
Areas that are not eligible for the IOC Medical and Scientific Research Fund include:
funding the work of commercial companies;
routine programmes that are part of normal athlete medical support and anti-doping programmes (e.g. training of medical or doping control personnel); and
research that should be the responsibility of other bodies (e.g. NOC education seminars by Olympic Solidarity).
To submit your application or for any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Open the brochure
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.