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) Anti-Doping Policy, which were 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.
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.
In the case that a WADA laboratory reports an AAF for an athlete’s A sample, then 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. 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 process once an AAF is reported.
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, an athlete can choose to accept the proposed sanction or challenge the sanction before an independent arbitrator. 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 which is then posted to 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.