anti-doping101_chalk_boardProtecting clean athletes’ rights by detecting and deterring the use of dangerous, banned performance-enhancing substance and methods is at the core of what USADA does, and we rely on, and expect, athletes to adhere to a number of responsibilities to ensure the protection of clean competition.

Are you competing in an event for the first time where there may be USADA drug testing? Do you have basic questions about the drug testing process and don’t know where to start?

This section answers some of the most commonly asked questions for athletes new to drug testing.

USADA is able to test and adjudicate anti-doping rule violations for any athlete who:

  • Is a member or a license holder of a United States Olympic Committee (USOC)-recognized sport national governing body (NGB)
  • Is participating at an event or competition sanctioned by the USOC or a USOC-recognized sport NGB or participating at an event or competition in the United States sanctioned by an International Olympic Committee-recognized international federation (IF) for sport
  • Is a foreign athlete who is present in the United States
  • Has given his/her consent to testing by USADA or who has submitted a whereabouts filing to USADA or an IF within the previous 12 months and has not given his/her NGB written notice of retirement
  • Has been named by the USOC or an NGB to an international team or who is included in the USADA registered testing pool (USADA RTP) or is competing in a qualifying event to represent the USOC or NGB in international competition
  • Is a United States athlete or foreign athlete present in the United States who is serving a period of ineligibility on account of an anti-doping rule violation and has not given prior written notice of retirement to the his/her NGB and USADA or the applicable foreign anti-doping agency or foreign sport association
  • Is being tested by USADA under authorization from the USOC, an NGB, IF, any NADO, WADA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee, (IPC), or the organizing committee of any event or competition.

USADA’s limited resources are obviously focused primarily on top level athletes, however any athlete competing in a race that falls under an NGB’s jurisdiction or that has a short term or long term NGB license can be tested by USADA. USADA believes that all athletes, regardless of competition level, have the right to compete on a clean and level playing field.

Whereabouts information (dates, times, locations, etc.) is information submitted to USADA by an athlete, which allows the athlete to be located for out-of-competition testing. Whereabouts requirements are thorough in the Olympic and Paralympic movements and must include an athlete’s regular schedule 365 days a year.

Only athletes in a registered testing pool (RTP), who have been personally and directly informed of their inclusion in a RTP, are required to submit whereabouts. All other athletes are not. Whereabouts requirements are determined by registered testing pool inclusion, not event participation.

For more information on whereabouts, please click here.

As a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code, USADA tests for substances and methods found on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. It’s important that athletes are aware of the substances and methods on the Prohibited List, as an athlete is responsible for any prohibited substance found in their body, regardless of intent.

It’s also important to understand that certain substances are prohibited at all times, while others are prohibited only during competition. In some cases, a substance is only prohibited in a certain sport. Use the resources on this tab in conjunction with the next step about medication and the resources available pertaining to medication to determine whether or not a substance is prohibited.



  1. Review the WADA Prohibited List

  2. Read the Athlete Guide to the WADA Prohibited List

  3. Understand any changes to this year’s list

global_droAthletes need to be aware of the prohibited status of any medication they are taking, whether it be an over-the-counter or prescription medication. The easiest way to understand your medication is to use USADA’s Global DRO service, where generic and name brand products, or specific medications, can be searched. Results will yield information including the in- and out-of-competition status, any threshold information, as well as sport specific information for those substances prohibited only in certain sports.

Athletes or their support team can also speak to an expert by phone during business hours by calling Athlete Express at 719.785.2000.

The USADA Wallet Card also provides information on the most commonly ingested medications.

If and when a medication is prohibited, athletes may choose to stop taking or replace the medication with a non-prohibited substance or explore the Therapeutic Use Exemption process.

Your health is your first priority. Any decision to stop or start a medication should be made in consultation with your medical provider.

It’s important to understand that Dietary Supplements are not medication. They are regulated and manufactured differently. For these reasons, USADA is unable to provide guidance on specific dietary supplement products. For more information visit USADA’s Supplement 411 resource.

In some situations, an athlete may have an illnesses or condition that requires the use of medication listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List. A therapeutic use exemption or TUE provides permission for an athlete to have a prohibited substance in their body at the time of a drug test.

The process for obtaining a TUE is thorough and balances the need to allow athletes access to critical medication while upholding clean athletes’ rights to compete on a clean and level playing field. In some cases, the TUE requirements are different for national-level athletes vs. non-national level athletes.

Athletes interested in obtaining a TUE should visit the Therapeutic Use Exemption page, where they can determine if they need a therapeutic use exemption, begin the application process, and find answers to the most frequently asked TUE questions.

Athletes selected for testing are subject to both blood and urine testing. The processes are designed to be both effective in preserving the integrity of the sample, yet safe and comfortable for the athlete. Understanding the processes as well as an athlete’s rights and responsibilities can help to make them less intimidating. There are additional considerations for minor athletes and disabled athletes.

Learn more about the sample collection processes here.

Athletes tested by USADA will receive their results by mail within 2-6 weeks from the date of their test. Tests administered by USADA on behalf of other sport organizations or federations will be subject to that organization’s results management process and athletes will not receive results for those tests from USADA.
For more information on USADA’s results management process, please click here.