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Anti-Doping Policy & Support Team

Athlete’s Guide

This guide has been written to give clear information to all athletes who are likely to be affected by the anti-doping rules, their regulation and enforcement. There should not be any mystique about the procedures followed or what they are designed to achieve. The intention is that athletes should be fully informed of their rights and obligations and that they should understand what happens at each stage.

Testing in competition

In competition (at which there is a doping control presence) any athlete in any event may be randomly selected for testing. The supervising officer uses numbered counters to draw a number of events and then a finishing position within each event.

Athletes selected for testing will be approached by an Independent Sampling Officer (ISO) who will escort them to the doping control area. If the athlete needs to warm down properly, or is competing in another event on the same day, a chaperone will accompany them until they are ready to give a sample

Admittance to the doping control area itself is strictly controlled; only the ISO’s, athletes being tested and people accompanying them may enter. Water (in sealed bottles) will always be available should the athlete want it. Only the athlete and the ISO will be present for collection of the sample, but the athlete may ask that the Team Doctor or other, suitable individual be present while it is divided.

The subsequent analysis of the sample will test for all banned substances including stimulants.

If providing a sample means that the athlete misses the team bus, a team official will make sure that alternative arrangements are made. If there is a danger of the athlete missing a flight, UK Athletics has the discretion to say that a sample need not be taken (although that would only be in very exceptional circumstances )

A UK Athletics anti-doping officer will be available for athletes to speak to either before or after a sample is given, and any concerns should be brought to their attention.

If an athlete is tested while competing abroad not as part of a GB team, they should advise UK Athletics when they return to this country. The usual point of contact is the Doping Coordinator, Joslyn Hoyte-Smith.

Out of competition (no notice) testing

When athletes are selected to compete as part of a GB team they may be asked to complete a registration form, which will mean that they will be available for testing at any time.

The register includes details of their name, address, date of birth, training venue and contact telephone numbers. This information must be kept up to date at all times because it is used by the ISO’s when they need to collect a sample. If the athlete is not at the address on the register it is assumed that they are avoiding testing, and non-collection is treated in the same way as a positive test result, meaning that the athlete would be subject to disciplinary action. If an athlete is away from their normal address for more than five days they must inform UKA of their whereabouts before they move / travel.

On a quarterly basis about 120 athletes are randomly selected for testing. The analysis carried out tests for banned substances excluding stimulants.

ISO’s are not allowed to turn up at a place of work and demand a sample. They must also act in a reasonable and professional manner. This means, for instance, that they will not call (without prior agreement with the athlete) at night, and that they will identify themselves to the athlete’s partner or family.

If an athlete is unhappy with the way that he / she is treated by the sampling officer, or with the sampling procedure itself, they must record their grievances on the form which they are asked to sign when collection is complete. They should inform the anti-doping coordinator of their concerns as soon as possible.

General points

In both of the above cases the athlete is required to produce a sample of at least 70ml of urine. For guidance, this is approximately a quarter of a can of carbonated drink. The sample is then divided between two identical, tamper-proof bottles that are then sealed by the athlete in the presence of the ISO. Both bottles will be treated in exactly the same way.

Athletes can expect to hear the results of any test within 3 weeks. The target that UK Sport has set is actually 10 days, but this is proving difficult to achieve.

ISO’s are employed by UK Sport specifically to collect samples. They receive regular training from UK Sport and are responsible for the custody of the samples until they are collected by a courier and delivered to the laboratory.

Samples received at the laboratory are completely anonymous, only being identified by a sample number. Analysis has to be carried out at an IOC accredited laboratory. In this country the only one is Kings College London. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry are used to identify the chemicals present in the urine sample.

The laboratory reports all test results to UK Sport Ethics and Anti-doping Directorate, who then inform UK Athletics.

Negative Results

If the tests carried out do not show up the presence of any substances on the banned list, a negative test result is logged and a standard letter is sent to the athlete by UK Athletics.

Positive Results

If the analysis of the sample shows the presence of a banned substance, or a substance that the body produces from a banned substance, in concentrations that are outside the accepted range for natural occurrence, the laboratory will report a positive finding. The laboratory reports such findings to UK Sport who then advise UK Athletics who identify and contact the athlete concerned.

A positive finding may indicate that a medical condition exists that requires monitoring or treatment. If this is the case, the team doctor may either request further samples to be taken, or may advise the athlete to contact his / her own GP.

An athlete who has to use an asthma inhaler or other prescribed medication to treat an existing medical condition will show up as positive for the steroids included in the drugs. If the UK Athletics Director of Medical Services (Dr Malcolm Brown) has been told that the athlete needs to take this medication, the positive finding will be recorded but no further action will be taken. The use of the inhaler must, though, be notified in writing when the athlete first appears on the register.

Where there is a positive finding in a sample, the athlete will be asked for an explanation.

Disciplinary Matters

The athlete can, when a positive result is reported, admit to having taken a banned substance. In which case the punishment will be as stated in the rulebook (e.g. a warning for the first recorded use of stimulants in competition and disqualification from that event; two-year ban for a subsequent offence).

The analysis provided by the laboratory, together with paperwork supplied by the UK Sport, and the views of the team doctor, plus any explanation from the athlete is reviewed by a panel appointed by UK Athletics. If there is deemed to be a case for athlete to answer, they will have to appear before a disciplinary hearing. This does not mean that the athlete is guilty of an offence – it means that the finding of the banned substance needs to be investigated.

The athlete is suspended from competition from the time that it is decided that he / she should appear before a disciplinary hearing. If the athlete is on the World Class Plan, his / her funding from the Lottery Unit will also be suspended.

The disciplinary hearing will take place as quickly as possible. Before it takes place, the athlete may ask that his / her B sample be analysed by the laboratory to confirm or contradict the results of the original tests. The athlete can be present in the laboratory when the B test is carried out, and may be accompanied by his / her adviser.

The disciplinary panel will be made up of one person who understands the law and how hearings should be conducted (usually a solicitor or barrister), one person with expert medical or scientific knowledge (usually a doctor, bio-chemist or endocrinologist) and one person with a background in sport (an ex-athlete for instance). None of these three will have any direct association with UK Athletics, other than being part of the disciplinary panel.

During the hearing the panel will take account of all of the evidence produced before deciding whether or not an offence has definitely been committed. If it is decided that an offence has not been committed, the athlete will be allowed to start competing again and any lottery funding that had been suspended will be paid to him / her.

If it is decided that an offence (other than a first offence involving the use of stimulants) has been committed, the athlete will be banned from competing in all IAAF and UK Athletics competitions for 2 years (for the first offence) or for life (second offence).

Whether found guilty or not, the decision may go to appeal – either by the athlete or by UK Athletics.

If UK Athletics clears the athlete of the offence, the IAAF may refer the case to its arbitration panel. Lottery funding will not be affected during this period.

During the period of a ban the athlete must be available for random testing unless they no longer wish to compete. Any infringements of the rules during this period would be treated very seriously and could lead to a lifetime ban.

After a ban has been served

After serving a ban or receiving a warning for the use of stimulants, the athlete will still not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, as the BOA operate under different rules to UK Athletics and the IAAF. The athlete is, however, able to apply to the Olympic movement to be considered to take part in the Olympic Games. Under normal circumstances, only bans for stimulant offences will be lifted.

Retirement from competition

When an athlete retires from representing Great Britain in international competition, they will be kept on the out-of-competition register for a further one year, in case they have a change of heart and wish to make a comeback. Alternatively, the athlete may specifically and formally ask that their name be removed from the register. If they then wish to return to GB representative competition they will have to be available for testing for a year before they can be selected.

This guide attempts to explain the processes, not to replace the rulebook, which every athlete should read and understand. If you have any questions about either the rules or this guide further information can be obtained from Joslyn Hoyte-Smith at UK Athletics in Birmingham.