UPDATED: August 23, 2021
With testing in full force, the Tokyo Games fast approaching, and COVID-19 still a concern, here are answers for athletes to common questions about anti-doping rules, vaccines, and COVID-19 protocols.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact USADA’s Athlete Services Team at athleteexpress@USADA.org or call (719) 785-2000. We are here to help you make an informed decision and to navigate these health, safety, and anti-doping matters.
VACCINES in the U.S.
What are the available COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.?
Currently there are three COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized by the FDA for use within the United States, including the Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. On September 22, 2021, the FDA granted full approval for the Pfizer/BioNTECH vaccine, offering additional confidence for recipients.
Are the vaccines available in the U.S. safe to use?
Yes, these three vaccines have been authorized by the FDA for safety and efficacy. The CDC has also found these vaccines to be safe and effective. You can call us or visit the CDC website to learn more about safety measures and protocols behind the development of these vaccines.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine and what is the cost?
Of course, you should make your own personal health decision to receive the vaccine or not.
USADA is encouraging its staff as well as others to receive the vaccine to assist in the goal of maintaining healthy and safe competition. USADA CEO, Travis T. Tygart, has already received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine (as permitted in Colorado) and notes, “While everyone has to make their own choice, for me, having added assurance of the health and safety of me, my family, USADA teammates, and others is a liberating feeling.”
The vaccine can be obtained at no cost.
What can I do to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccine rollout is being done on a state-by-state basis based on defined eligibility criteria. For example, in Colorado, all residents over the age of 16 age are now eligible to receive the vaccine.
Please visit the CDC website to determine the roll-out status in your sate and your eligibility. Do not hesitate to contact USADA if we can be of assistance locating a place for you to obtain the vaccine if you choose to do so.
How can I obtain a COVID-19 vaccine if I’m living outside of the United States?
Athletes who reside outside of the United States should check with their local health authority in their country of residence about access to COVID-19 vaccines.
What if I have additional questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine?
You can call or contact USADA and/or you can call the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), TTY: 888-232-6348, or visit CDC-INFO.
VACCINES and ANTI-DOPING
Are any of the COVID-19 vaccines prohibited in or out-of-competition?
The three vaccines approved in the U.S. are not prohibited. They do not contain any prohibited substances and are permitted for use at any time under anti-doping rules.
What side effects could the vaccine have on my performance?
There is no indication that COVID-19 vaccines have a substantial impact on an athlete’s performance. However, any vaccination can potentially create a temporary reaction, including symptoms (e.g., fever, pain at the injection site), but there is no evidence that the three vaccines approved to date would create any long-term performance decline. It is recommended that athletes receive the vaccine during a light phase of training if possible.
Will USADA continue to implement COVID-19 safety measures during sample collection despite city and state restrictions being lifted?
Yes, USADA will continue to follow its established COVID-19 Safety Protocols regardless of reduced city and state restrictions in order to best protect the wellbeing of athletes and collection personnel. We are also encouraging all USADA staff – including DCOs and all sample collection personnel – to receive one of the three U.S. approved vaccines.
What if DCOs are not following USADA COVID-19 Safety Protocols?
You can find all of USADA’s COVID-19 Safety Protocols online or by scanning the QR code of the DCO iPad prior to sample collection. If you are uncomfortable or believe a DCO is not following protocol, we encourage you to share your concerns with the DCO. You may submit feedback to USADA in your sample collection paperwork, or you can contact USADA with any questions or concerns at (719) 785-2000, Toll-Free (866) 601-2632, or e-mail athleteexpress@USADA.org.
What if I don’t want a DCO in my home?
If a DCO arrives at your home and you prefer to be tested elsewhere, please communicate that preference so other accommodations can be arranged. Importantly, refusing to be tested following notification could result in a refusal to test violation and lead to a sanction.
For questions about specific products, substances, and methods, contact USADA’s Drug Reference Line at drugreference@USADA.org or call (719) 785-2000, option 2.
For general questions or questions regarding COVID-10 vaccine information or sites, please contact USADA’s Athlete Services Team at athleteexpress@USADA.org or call (719) 785-2000.