Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

U.S. Olympian Simone Biles, center in blue, looks on with teammates during the women's floor exercise in artistic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021. (AP) U.S. Olympian Simone Biles, center in blue, looks on with teammates during the women's floor exercise in artistic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021. (AP)

U.S. Olympian Simone Biles, center in blue, looks on with teammates during the women's floor exercise in artistic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 2, 2021

No evidence that Olympics barred gymnast Simone Biles from using a medication

If Your Time is short

  • Biles has said she withdrew from several events in the Tokyo Games because of stress that put her in physical danger while doing gymnastics routines. But she has since announced she will return to the competition.

  • In 2016, Biles said she had ADHD and was taking medication for the condition. She received an exemption to use the medication while in competition.

  • There have been no authoritative statements on whether Biles has continued taking medication for ADHD, or whether she was barred from taking any medication during the Tokyo Olympics.

The day before it was announced that gymnast Simone Biles would return to the Olympics competition in Tokyo, a social media post suggested that she had earlier withdrawn because she was prevented from taking medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The image of a tweet shared on Facebook says of the six-time Olympic medalist:

"So they didn’t allow Simone to take her ADHD medication because it was considered a substance then become surprised when she’s unable to focus and is fearful of making a bad move on the floor."

The post, from an account with more than 500,000 Facebook followers, seemed to indicate that the medication is a banned substance. It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Biles has acknowledged taking medication for ADHD in the past. 

But we could find no statements from Biles or made on her behalf regarding whether she was taking ADHD medication leading up to the Tokyo Games. And we found no evidence that she was prohibited from taking any medication in Tokyo.

Medical records hacked

ADHD is a disorder commonly diagnosed in childhood that often lasts into adulthood. People who have it might have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or being overly active.

In 2016, hackers leaked medical records showing that Biles tested positive for methylphenidate, a prescription drug commonly used to treat ADHD; its brand names include Ritalin. 

Biles responded to the leak by saying that she has ADHD and takes medicine for it. 

Featured Fact-check

Biles received a "therapeutic use exemption" through the World Anti-Doping Agency to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Biles cites "twisties" in Tokyo

The 24-year-old Texan, whose motto on her personal website is "Don’t Flip Out," withdrew from the finals of the team competition during the competition in Tokyo on July 27. 

USA Gymnastics said it was due to a medical issue; Team USA said she had "mental struggles." 

Biles initially said she withdrew to work on her "mindfulness," alluding to stress and saying she puts "mental health first." 

Later, she said she withdrew because of the "twisties," which she described as a dangerous condition that prevents her from doing certain maneuvers in mid-air. She said that her "mind and body are simply not in sync" and that "physical health is mental health." 

Biles withdrew from more events before the announcement that she would return for the balance beam final on Aug. 3.

Representatives from Team USA and for Biles did not respond to our requests for comment.

It’s worth noting that Japan bans many stimulants but makes some exceptions for athletes, and allows certain non-stimulant ADHD drugs, such as Ritalin, according to Team USA. 

With no evidence that Biles was prevented from taking medication during the Tokyo Olympics, we rate the post False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 1, 2021

YouTube, E! News video, July 30, 2021

World Anti-Doping Agency, statement, Sept. 13, 2016

Twitter, Simone Biles tweet, Sept. 13, 2016

YouTube, ESPN video, July 27, 2021

Team USA, Gymnastics news, July 27, 2021

Team USA, "Medication Information," accessed Aug. 2, 2021

New York Times, "Simone Biles and Williams Sisters Latest Target of Russian Hackers," Sept. 13, 2016

Houston Chronicle, "Simone Biles' Olympic drug-testing records hacked by Russian group," Sept. 13, 2016

USA Gymnastics, tweet, July 27, 2021

ESPN, "Bravo, Simone Biles, for taking a stand against ADHD stigma," Sept. 21, 2016

Snopes, "Why Did Simone Biles Withdraw From the Olympics Gymnastics Team Final?", July 27, 2021

Click2Houston.com, "Simone Biles turns to Instagram to share why competing right now is dangerous," July 30, 2021

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

No evidence that Olympics barred gymnast Simone Biles from using a medication

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up