U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)

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Adjudication Process

The results management and adjudication process is designed to balance the interest of clean athletes in not competing against another athlete or athletes facing an unresolved doping charge, with the opportunity for athletes and other persons who have been charged with an anti-doping rule violation to have an opportunity for a hearing prior to being declared ineligible to participate in sport. USADA’s adjudication process is compliant with the Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act, the World Anti-Doping Code, and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) National Anti-Doping Policy, which was approved by the USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council. Below is a summary of the adjudication process for an anti-doping rule violation. For more detailed information, please read the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing.

Results Management Process

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Independent WADA Laboratories

After an athlete provides a blood and/or urine sample to a doping control or blood collection officer, the athlete’s sample is sent to a WADA-accredited laboratory. A WADA laboratory is compliant with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories, meeting the strictest standards globally. A WADA laboratory receives samples with no identifying connection to the athletes, removing any opportunity for bias in reporting results. The independent WADA laboratory results are communicated to USADA, which reports results to athletes, as well as uploads the results to WADA’s Anti-Doping Management System (ADAMS).

Identification of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation

Although an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) most often occurs as the result of a WADA laboratory reporting to USADA an adverse analytical finding (AAF), i.e., a positive test, an ADRV can occur from any of the following.

The athlete, the athlete’s sport national governing body, the athlete’s sport international federation, the USOPC, and WADA are all kept informed of the results management process for any alleged anti-doping rule violation.


In the event that a WADA laboratory reports an AAF for an athlete’s A sample, the athlete may request the B sample to be tested to confirm the presence of the prohibited substance and/or prohibited method detected in the A sample. The athlete has the opportunity to be present when the B sample is opened and analyzed. Once the B sample analysis is waived or confirms the A sample results, USADA can charge an athlete with an anti-doping rule violation.

Once charged with an anti-doping rule violation, an athlete can choose to accept the proposed sanction or request a hearing before an independent arbitrator(s). If an athlete ignores USADA’s charging letter, a sanction is imposed after a set period of time.

Independent Arbitration Hearing

An athlete charged with an anti-doping rule violation is entitled to have their case heard by an independent arbitrator not affiliated with USADA. All evidence is subject to disclosure in accordance with the law and witnesses’ testimony is given under oath and subject to penalty of perjury and cross examination. The arbitrator provides a written decision to all parties. If an anti-doping rule violation is declared, the decision will be available on USADA’s website.


The athlete, USADA, WADA, or the relevant international sport federation (IF) can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A decision delivered by CAS is final.

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USADA Testing and Results Management Process.

Athletes in the U.S. are supported by a gold standard testing process aimed at detecting and deterring doping, following the worldwide harmonized practices for testing and results management. At the same time, significant efforts in education are undertaken to prevent doping in future generations and investment in research is committed to advance anti-doping science.


Sample Collection:

  • Two types of testing: in-competition and out-of-competition (no advance notice). Athletes are subject to both urine and blood collection for analysis.

Laboratory Analysis:

  • Samples are collected and processed, sent to WADA-accredited labs for analysis, and may be stored up to 10 years for possible retesting as new testing detection methods are developed.


No Adverse Analytical Finding:

  • No prohibited substances detected.
  • Notice is sent to the athlete, the athlete’s National Governing Body (NGB), and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
  • No further action taken.

Adverse Analytical Finding: 

  • One or more prohibited substances detected in sample: USADA receives adverse analytical finding A sample lab report.
  • Notice of finding sent to athlete, NGB, USOPC, athlete’s International Federation (IF), and WADA.
  • Athlete has the option to proceed with the B sample analysis at the lab. Athlete and/or athlete’s representative has the right to attend processing of B sample.
  • B sample finding recieved by USADA and copy is sent to athlete, NGB, IF, WADA, and USOPC.
  • If the prohibited substance(s) is not found in the B sample analysis, the case will not move forward based on a presence violation and the athlete, NGB, IF, WADA, and USOPC receive notification.


Acceptance of Sanction:

  • Athlete can choose to accept a sanction at any point during the results management process.

Request for Hearing:

  • Athlete exercises right to request a hearing before independent arbitral body or, if athlete, USADA, and WADA agree, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
  • If initial hearing not heard at CAS, athlete, USADA, IF, and WADA have right to appeal hearing decision to CAS.
  • CAS ruling is final.

Public announcements made for athletes accepting a sanction and for hearing decisions finding a violation of the anti-doping rules.