U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)

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This video depicts our standard testing protocols, but also identifies and details points of departure due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Testing During COVID-19

Learn more about the protocols USADA has put in place to protect the health of athletes and sample collection personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. USADA’s protocols will continue to evolve based on the latest data and guidance from public health experts. Any protocol changes will be reflected in these resources as soon as possible. For questions, contact USADA at (719) 785-2000.

covid-19 safety protocols

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Working together to maintain health and support clean sport.

  • USADA screens each test assignment location for COVID-19-related restrictions (e.g., shelter-in-place orders.)
  • We assign DCOs with priority given to those located closest to the athlete.
  • If a DCO arrives and you would like to be tested elsewhere, please communicate that preference.
  • USADA DCOs and other sample collection personnel are regularly tested for COVID-19.
  • All DCOs complete a health monitoring questionnaire the day they are assigned to test that will further determine their clearance to conduct the assignment.
  • All DCOs will wear a mask throughout each test session.
  • All DCOs will wear a face shield after notification has occured.
  • All DCOs will wear glvoes when appropriate and available.
  • You can wear your own mask, or USADA will provide you with one if needed.
  • All DCOs will maintain a 6-foot distance whenever possible.
  • Please help us maintain the 6-foot distance.
  • Athletes must wash hands with soap and water after notification and sample provision.
  • All DCOs must wash hands with soap prior to the sample collection process.
  • If soap is not available for any reason, DCOs carry hand sanitizer as an alternative hand washing solution.
  • DCOs will bring and use disinfectant wipes and/or spray throughout and following the testing session.

Contact USADA directly with questions or concerns at (719) 785-2000 or (866) 601-2632, and at athleteexpress@USADA.org.

  • Remove and add competitions as events are updated
  • Update training and school locations as they close and re-open
  • Provide an accurate primary overnight location
  • Designate a 60-minute window that aligns with your testing preferences
  • Remove and add competitions as events are updated
  • Update training and school locations as they close and re-open
  • Provide an accurate primary overnight location

more on face shields

Your health and safety is our top priority.

Our DCOs will wear personal protective equipment while conducting your test, including mask and face shield.

Comic-style infographic of DCOs wearing face shields, masks, and gloves for testing durnig COVID-19.

Learn more about the Sample Collection Process.

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USADA is committed to making sport safe, fair, and authentic at all levels of competition, through independent and comprehensive anti-doping programs. One key component of a successful anti-doping program is strategic drug testing, in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code. USADA’s gold standard testing program utilizes in-competition testing and out-of-competition testing, which can occur at any time and any location. Athletes selected for testing may be required to provide urine, blood, or both. This applies to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, International and Masters Level athletes, and Junior athletes.

When a doping control officer, or DCO, notifies athletes that they have been selected for testing, the DCO must show the athlete their credential. If the DCO is not the same gender as the athlete, they’ll be accompanied by a chaperone of the athlete’s gender who can supervise the provision of the sample. The athlete is then required to produce identification and stay within direct view of the DCO or chaperone until the test is concluded. Athletes are required to report immediately to an out-of-competition location or to the in-competition doping control station, unless the DCO approves a valid reason for reason for delay, such as cooling down, attending a medal ceremony, fulfilling a media commitment, or receiving medical attention. Athletes do have the right to have a representative present.

For urine samples, minor athletes are also required to have a third-party present in the toilet area where they can monitor the DCO or chaperone during the provision of the sample. Athletes with disabilities have the right to request necessary modifications to the testing process. All athletes are asked to provide a sample of at least 90 milliliters of urine under the direct observation of a DCO or witnessing chaperone. If 90 milliliters are not immediately available, athletes will store the partial sample in a secure vault and use another collection cup to secure the remaining sample when ready. After staying in view of the chaperone and then providing a full sample, athletes will be offered a choice of sealed sample collection equipment that contain two security bottles marked “A” and “B”. They should inspect the equipment prior to use, and the DCO should instruct the athlete to ensure that the alphanumeric code on the bottles match and correspond to the barcode on the outside of the box. This is critical, since the athletes name will not appear on the documentation sent to the lab, to ensure anonymity. Athletes will then divide their sample between the “A” and “B” sample bottles, secure the bottles, and seal them for shipping. Athletes are to maintain direct observation and control of their sample until it’s sealed.

A sample collection session may include a blood collection. Some USADA DCOs will be licensed or certified phlebotomists. But if they are not, a certified and/or licensed phlebotomist, called a Blood Collection Officer, or BCO, will perform the blood draw. Athletes are asked to stay seated for a period of time before blood is drawn. Less than two tablespoons of blood is needed for testing, which should not affect athletic performance. Complications from a blood draw are rare, but can include, fainting, dizziness, bruising at the puncture site, or hematoma, nerve injury, and arterial puncture or laceration. Site reactions such as bruising or swelling can be minimized by applying pressure to the collection site for at least five minutes, avoiding strenuous exercise for at least 30 minutes, and keeping the bandage on for at least two hours. If you have ever experienced complications from a past blood draw, please bring them to the attention of the USADA DCO before the blood draw begins.

After securing the sample, the DCO will review the Doping Control Official Record, or DCOR, with an athlete, at which time, they will declare their use of any medications, supplements, or treatments before signing the DCOR. Athletes are encouraged to discuss any concerns with the DCO and to provide feedback to USADA. Please visit USADA.org for more information about the sample collection process.