Blood Sample Collection Process

Athlete Selection

You can be selected for testing at anytime and at any location.

When USADA develops its plan to allocate testing resources, a number of considerations factor into the approach to testing athletes. They can include the physical demands of the sport, the history of doping in the sport, training periods and the competition calendar, and many other key considerations. When you are selected for testing, you may be required to provide a urine, or blood sample, or both. You are selected for testing by individuals at the USADA office and not by the Doping Control Officer.

If you are selected for an In-Competition test, you may be selected based on rules that the International Federation or a local organizing committee has established. This could include a place finish within the competition as well as being randomly selected or target tested. Click here for more information on test distribution planning.

Athlete Notification

A USADA Doping Control Officer (DCO) or Chaperone will notify you in person that you have been selected for testing.

Once you have been notified for testing, you will be asked to sign a document to acknowledge that you were notified and of your requirement to provide blood, urine, or both. You will also be informed of your rights and responsibilities and should carefully read the statements prior to signing. Once you are notified of your selection for testing, you must remain at all times within direct sight of the DCO or Chaperone.

If you are selected to provide a blood sample, a Blood Collection Officer (BCO) will accompany the DCO throughout the blood collection session. A BCO is a qualified phlebotomist who will perform the actual blood collection and could be dressed in scrubs, a lab coat, or other professional attire. The DCO will process the blood collection session.

If at any time you have questions, you should ask the DCO or the BCO to provide an explanation of the process.

You and all other athletes are encouraged to have a representative throughout the process. It is highly encouraged for minors or athletes with a disability to have a representative accompany them throughout the process.

Reporting to the Doping Control Station

You should immediately report to the Doping Control Station unless you have a valid reason for delay.

You may request a delay for valid reasons such as those that are outlined in your rights and responsibilities and the DCO will determine if it is warranted. The DCO or Chaperone will be with you at all times until the sample collection process is complete.

Selection of Kits

You are given a choice of individually sealed security and accessory kits from which to choose.

You should choose and inspect the security kits, vacutainer kit(s) and accessory kits to ensure they have not been tampered with and are not defective. Security kits contain the security bottles used to transport your blood sample to the lab; vacutainer kits include the vacutainer tubes for the collection of blood and accessory kits contain the butterfly needle, straight needle and other aftercare supplies. You should also check the contents of the security kits to confirm all the sample code numbers match on the bottles, lids, and labels. You should remove the shrink wrap and red ring from the bottles and place the lid on the table with the open end up. The kits will be used to transport your blood sample(s) to the lab.

Blood Collection

A number of steps occur during the blood collection process to ensure blood sample requirements are met.

During the blood collection process, less than one tablespoon of blood will be drawn and the amount of blood should not affect your performance. You are required to remain in a seated position for a minimum of 10 minutes prior to the blood draw. *

The BCO will begin the blood collection process by cleaning your skin with a sterile disinfectant swab in the location where blood is drawn. The area is selected by the BCO, and is unlikely to adversely affect your performance. The BCO will apply a tourniquet to aid in the collection and the BCO will begin to draw the blood sample. You are attempted a maximum of three times.

During the blood collection process, a number of vacutainer tubes of blood could be drawn, but keep in mind, less than one tablespoon of blood will be drawn. After the relevant vacutainer tubes are filled with blood, the BCO will label each tube with the corresponding sample code number for the security bottles, confirming with you that each tube was labeled appropriately.

After collecting the blood sample, the BCO will provide any aftercare measures and instruction needed.

Minor modifications, such as the number of tubes of blood drawn and the length of time that you remain in a seated position, can vary between USADA and International Federation protocols. Rest assured that the protocols fall within the International Standard for Testing requirements.

*USADA requires that you remain seated for a minimum of 20 minutes prior to the blood draw.

Securing the Blood Collection Sample

The security of your blood sample, as well as your health and safety, are very important and steps are taken to protect each.

The DCO will direct the BCO to secure each tube in its respective security bottle and verify that each tube is securely placed within the security bottles. Once the sample(s) are secure with the lid tightly sealed, the DCO and you may check to ensure the bottles are sealed properly by trying to turn the security lids counterclockwise so they do not open. The security bottles are then placed in clear transport bags and sealed for shipment.

Paperwork Collection

After the blood sample is secured in the security bottles, the DCO will complete the remaining paperwork with you.

The DCO will guide you through the remaining paperwork corresponding to the blood collection session. During the completion of the final paperwork, you will be asked a series of questions that correspond to the paperwork. Once the paperwork has been reviewed, you and your representative (if applicable), the DCO, and the BCO will sign the form to verify the accuracy of the information. You will receive the appropriate paperwork copies and the remaining copies will be sent to USADA and the WADA-accredited laboratory. The laboratory's copy has your name removed.

Blood Sample Shipment

After the conclusion of the blood collection session, the DCO will ship your blood sample(s) to a WADA-accredited laboratory.

The chain of custody of your sample is closely monitored by USADA and the paperwork that accompanies your blood samples(s) to the WADA-accredited lab does not include your name. The sample code number written on the paperwork is the only information the lab uses to identify you and your sample may be stored for eight years or longer.

You will receive a notification letter from USADA that states your analysis has been completed. If your blood is drawn by another anti-doping organization, you may not receive your results or a notification letter.

Providing Feedback

As an athlete, you have the right to provide feedback about your USADA blood collection session.

Feedback is an important part of the doping control process. After each USADA blood collection session, a USADA DCO will provide you with an athlete evaluation form to provide feedback related to your blood collection session. Forms are also available to download on the USADA website. USADA encourages you to provide feedback about your experience and every form that is submitted to USADA is reviewed.