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U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)

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Frequently asked questions

Answers to the most frequently asked questions in anti-doping. Click a link below to jump to that section.

General | Testing | WhereaboutsProhibited List | Results Management | Supplements | Therapeutic Use Exemptions

General

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The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is the national anti-doping organization (NADO) for Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American sports in the United States. USADA’s mission is to stand with athletes to champion their right to clean sport, inspire true and healthy sport, and promote the integrity of sport.

USADA is responsible for administering all the components of the anti-doping program, including the testing and results management processes, for all United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC)-recognized sport National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and their athletes, as well as events. In addition, USADA is responsible for athlete education, drug reference resources, Therapeutic Use Exemptions, and scientific research initiatives. USADA is also the administrator for the UFC Anti-Doping Program.

USADA is an independent, non-profit organization. It is not a branch or office of the federal government.

USADA was created as the result of recommendations made by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Select Task Force on Externalization. Prior to USADA’s founding in October 2000, management of the anti-doping program for Olympic and Paralympic sport was handled internally by the USOPC. The USOPC took the important step to externalize the anti-doping program, and USADA’s creation as a separate and independent anti-doping entity is largely unique in major American sport. USADA was established to remove the inherent conflict of interest that results from an organization being charged with both promoting and policing a sport.

USADA is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and operates in the Mountain Time Zone. USADA’s main telephone number is (719) 785-2000, and our toll-free telephone number is (866) 601-2632. USADA’s main fax number is (719) 785-2001. USADA’s general email address is usada@usada.org.

Athletes and their support personnel can contact USADA’s Athlete Express resource by calling (719) 785-2000 or emailing athleteexpress@usada.org. Our mailing address is 5555 Tech Center Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80919-2372. For more information, please click here.

The USOPC, USOPC-recognized National Governing Bodies for sport (NGBs), and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code have authorized USADA to test and adjudicate anti-doping rule violations for any athlete who:

  • Is a member or license holder of, or under contract with, a National Governing Body or sports organization for whom USADA is authorized to conduct any aspect of Doping Control;
  • Is a member of, or the recipient of a license from, an International Federation (IF) or other WADA Code Signatory or a member of a Signatory;
  • Participates in sport, including by registering or preparing for or participating in an Event or Competition in the United States or which is organized or sanctioned by the USOPC, an NGB or a sport organization for whom USADA is authorized to conduct any aspect of Doping Control;
  • Applies for (including participating in any qualifying Event or other step in the selection process), or is selected to, a U.S. national, Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, Parapan American, Youth Olympic team or other team representing the USOPC or NGB in an International Event;
  • Applies for a change of sport nationality to the United States;
  • Is present in the United States;
  • Receives benefits from the USOPC or NGB;
  • Registers for or uses any USOPC training center, training site or other facility;
  • Gives their consent to Testing by USADA;
  • If a U.S. Athlete, submits, or is required to submit, a Whereabouts Filing to USADA or an IF within the previous twelve (12) months and has not given his or her IF, NGB, and USADA written notice of retirement;
  • Is included in the USADA Registered Testing Pool (RTP) or the USADA Clean Athlete Program (CAP);
  • Is present in the United States, or has been previously sanctioned by USADA for an anti-doping rule violation, and is serving a period of Ineligibility on account of an anti-doping rule violation and who has not given prior written notice of retirement from all sanctioned Competitions to the applicable IF, NGB, and USADA, or the applicable foreign anti-doping agency or foreign sport association;
  • Is subject to Testing under authorization from the USOPC, NGB, IF, any NADO, WADA, the IOC, the IPC, any other Anti-Doping Organization (ADO), any other sports organization, or the organizing committee of any Event or Competition; and
  • USADA is entitled to test under the rules of any ADO or sports organization.

Capitalized words in the list above refer to defined terms in the World Anti-Doping Code and the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing.

USADA does testing for IFs, other NADOs, and the World Anti-Doping Agency. USADA does not test at the Olympic Games. The Local Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games and WADA oversee testing at the Games.

Generally not, although USADA does oversee the independent anti-doping program for UFC. Most professional sports leagues and the NCAA are not WADA Code signatories, and they conduct their own anti-doping programs in-house. Professional and collegiate athletes who also participate in Olympic sports (e.g. basketball, hockey), however, are subject to USADA testing in the lead up to the Games or World Championship. USADA is responsible for the testing program and results management for athletes in Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American sport. Please see the previous question to understand what constitutes Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American sport. USADA also conducts testing by contract for sports and/or events that fall outside this group, such as professional boxing, dance, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

USADA’s education programs provide athletes, coaches, and other interested individuals valuable information on anti-doping matters, including sample collection policies and procedures, prohibited substances, Therapeutic Use Exemptions, Whereabouts requirements, athlete responsibilities, nutrition, dietary supplements, and other related topics. Athletes can visit www.usada.org/athletes and www.usada.org/resources for education information and materials. Additionally, USADA powers TrueSport, a movement working to create a positive youth sport experience through lessons on clean &  healthy performance, sportsmanship, and character building & life skills.

The World Anti-Doping Code is the core document that provides a global framework for the anti-doping policies, rules, and regulations within sport organizations and among public authorities. It was developed and promulgated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is the international organization responsible for monitoring the Code and its signatories. USADA is a signatory to the Code.

The Code is the first document to harmonize regulations regarding anti-doping matters across all sports and countries of the world. The Code works in conjunction with International Standards that include:

Many International Federations implemented the Code as of January 1, 2004. All International Federations adopted and implemented the Code by August 13, 2004, which was the opening date of the 2004 Olympic Games. After a thorough review and consultation process, the World Anti-Doping Agency Foundation Board approved revised versions of the Code in 2007, 2013, and 2019. The current version of the Code became effective on January 1, 2021. The Code and all of the International Standards can be found at www.wada-ama.org.

Testing

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USADA conducts in-competition (IC) and out-of-competition (OOC) tests. OOC testing is conducted with individual athletes in an out-of-competition setting with little or no advance notice of the test. In-competition testing is generally conducted during or following an event. USADA collects both urine and blood samples – including Dried Blood Spot testing –  as part of its program. USADA utilizes special analysis testing including, but not limited to, human growth hormone (hGH), erythropoietin (EPO) and Carbon isotope ratio (CIR)/Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) testing, and collects additional data as part of the Athlete Biological Passport Program. For more information on testing, please click here.

For more information on sample collection, please click here.

What are the definitions of in-competition and out-of-competition?

In-competition refers to the period commencing at 11:59 pm on the day before a competition in which the athlete is scheduled to compete through the end of such competition and the sample collection process related to such competition. WADA may approve alternative definitions for particular sports. 

Out-of-competition refers to any period which is not in-competition.

Definitions for In-Competition and Out-of-Competition are taken from the World Anti-Doping Code.

***Additional Info: Before an event should I stop taking medications prohibited in-competition only?

Information about contract testing and customized testing programs with USADA can be found here.

USADA’s out-of-competition testing plan is designed to strategically maximize resources by allocating tests based on specific factors in accordance with the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI). Tests are then conducted throughout the year when out-of-competition testing is most effective, and according to selection criteria and incoming data, including previous finishing placements.

To maintain an effective anti-doping program, USADA retains the right to test athletes at any time and location.

If selected for inclusion in a USADA testing pool, the suspended athlete must comply with all requirements of the USADA testing pool during the period of ineligibility, including submitting Whereabouts information to USADA.

All sanctioned athletes—whether in a USADA testing pool or not—must remain available for out-of-competition testing during their period of ineligibility. If an athlete retires, their sanction is tolled until the athlete formally unretires.

Any athlete who retires must promptly inform USADA, their NGB, and their IF in writing via mail or email that they are retiring. They should also check with their IF to determine if there are additional steps they need to follow to complete the retirement process. Until an athlete has finalized all the necessary retirement steps, they are still subject to the requirements of an athlete in a USADA testing pool.

If an athlete does not provide advance written notice of retirement and is notified for testing, but refuses to provide a sample for an out-of-competition test, this is a refusal to submit to sample collection. If the athlete refuses to cooperate or fails to report to testing within the given time frame, the athlete will be subject to the consequences set forth in the World Anti-Doping Code for their anti-doping rule violation.

For more information, please click here.

Yes, if USADA is the results management authority over the sample collection session, we inform the athlete of all test results, including negative findings. The USOPC and the relevant NGB also have access to information about all negative results.

Whereabouts

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Registered Testing Pool
Athletes who have been notified that they are part of the USADA Registered Testing Pool (RTP) are responsible for directly keeping USADA informed of their Whereabouts via quarterly Whereabouts filings and ongoing updates so as to be available for out-of-competition testing.

Clean Athlete Program
Athletes who have been notified that they are part of the Clean Athlete Program (CAP) are also responsible for directly keeping USADA informed of their Whereabouts to be available for out-of-competition testing. CAP athletes, however, are subject to less stringent Whereabouts requirements as part of USADA’s strategic testing plan, which is designed to make Whereabouts requirements for athletes proportional to testing.

For more information regarding Whereabouts requirements, click here.

Both the USADA Registered Testing Pool and Clean Athlete Program have deadlines for the submission of their Whereabouts information.

USADA Registered Testing Pool

Athletes included in the RTP must complete their Whereabouts filing online and submit it by the 15th of the month ahead of each quarter.

  • Quarter 1 – December 15
  • Quarter 2 – March 15
  • Quarter 3 – June 15
  • Quarter 4 – September 15

Clean Athlete Program

Athletes included in the CAP are subject to limited Whereabouts requirements and must file/update a Whereabouts summary twice per year.

  • Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 – December 15
  • Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 – June 15

An update should be submitted anytime an RTP athlete’s schedule changes from what was previously provided in the quarterly submission. CAP athletes must keep their basic location summary accurate throughout the year.

USADA Registered Testing Pool

If an athlete’s schedule changes from what they originally submitted in the quarterly Whereabouts Filing, they must file an update with USADA as soon as possible. For example, if an athlete books previously unplanned travel, they must submit an update. USADA RTP athletes must also identify a daily 60-minute window, during which they must be available and accessible for testing at a specific location during the entire 60-minute time slot.

Clean Athlete Program (CAP)

Athletes included in the USADA CAP are required to submit basic contact information twice per year. Required information includes: a primary overnight location, typical training location(s), and upcoming competitions. If this information changes, USADA CAP athletes should submit a Whereabouts update to USADA.

Athletes in the USADA CAP are not required to submit daily Whereabouts updates or 60-minute window.

Athletes in both the USADA Registered Testing Pool and the Clean Athlete Program can submit quarterly Whereabouts filings and Whereabouts updates to USADA through these methods:

It is the athlete’s responsibility to update USADA regarding changes to the schedule listed on his or her Whereabouts Filing.. According to the International Standard for Testing & Investigations (ISTI) it is the responsibility of the DCO to make a reasonable effort to locate the athlete for testing. If the DCO is unable to locate the athlete for testing, he or she will complete an Unsuccessful Attempt Report and submit the Report to USADA. USADA, upon review of the DCO’s attempt, will determine whether or not the attempt to test will be considered a Whereabouts Failure – Missed Test. If there is a reasonable basis for declaring a Whereabouts Failure – Missed Test, USADA will email the athlete and include a letter notifying them. The letter invites the athlete to submit a written response to the Whereabouts Failure – Missed Test. USADA reviews the response and makes a final decision on whether to declare a Whereabouts Failure – Missed Test.

If an RTP athlete does not file the required Whereabouts information by the quarterly deadline, they are subject to a Filing Failure, which is one type of Whereabouts Failure. Filing Failures can also be issued if the information provided in the initial Whereabouts filing is insufficient or inaccurate (i.e., conflicting information or inaccurate addresses).

A Filing Failure may also be issued if a DCO makes a reasonable attempt to test an athlete at the locations provided on an athlete’s Whereabouts filing and the athlete cannot be located or confirms they are unavailable. For this reason, it is essential that athletes submit complete and accurate Whereabouts Filings to USADA.

Although Whereabouts Filings do require time and diligence, RTP athletes can sign up for weekly or daily texts or emails if they need additional reminders about the status of their Whereabouts information.

You can select the “Trouble logging in?” link on the Athlete Express homepage and select “Forgot Password”. Once you enter your email address that is used to log into your account, you will receive a verification email that will walk you through the steps to reset your password. You can also email USADA at AthleteExpress@usada.org or call (866) 601-2632.

Prohibited List

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The World Anti-Doping Agency has a committee, composed of experts from around the world who consider input from interested stakeholders and determine the list of Prohibited Substances and Methods. All signatories to the WADA Code follow the WADA Prohibited List.

The WADA Prohibited List identifies those substances and methods that are prohibited at all times (both in-competition and out-of-competition), only in-competition, and only in specific sports. The List is updated and published annually. You can find a full copy of the List here. You can check the prohibited status of your medications on GlobalDRO.com.

For information on prohibited substances, please click here. The WADA Prohibited List should be referenced to determine which substances are prohibited, but USADA provides a number of drug reference resources to help athletes understand which substances are prohibited. To see if a specific medication or ingredient is prohibited, please visit GlobalDRO.com. Additionally, USADA provides a drug reference phone line. Due to the current regulatory framework in the supplement industry, USADA is not able to tell athletes what dietary supplement products are safe to take. For more information on why, and to understand the risks associated with using supplements, please visit Supplement411.org

A substance or method will be considered for inclusion on the WADA Prohibited List if the substance or method meets two of the following three criteria:

1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance.

2. It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete.

3. It violates the spirit of sport.

Before participating in a clinical trial, you need to call or email the USADA Drug Reference Line to determine if a Therapeutic Use Exemption is required. A drug in development and undergoing clinical trials could be considered prohibited if it falls into one of the categories of banned substances on the WADA Prohibited List, or if it has the potential to be performance enhancing.

Results Management

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After receiving notification from the laboratory of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF), or if USADA has decided to move forward with a non-analytical case (proof of a violation based upon evidence other than an AAF), USADA will notify the athlete, the USOPC, the relevant IF, WADA and the athlete’s NGB. When the athlete’s ”A”’ sample has returned a positive result, the athlete will have the opportunity to be request that their “B” sample be tested and present at the laboratory for the ”B” sample opening.

The “B” sample opening and analysis typically occur within 10 working days after the athlete’s request that their “B” sample be analyzed.

This is considered a positive test and USADA will charge the athlete with an anti-doping rule violation.

Yes. The athlete has the right to contest the sanction sought by USADA by electing to proceed to a hearing before the independent arbitral body designated to resolve alleged rule violations.

The standard commercial arbitration rules of the independent arbitral body, as modified by USADA’s Procedures for the Arbitration of Olympic & Paralympic Sport Disputes, apply to the hearing process.

The hearing will be completed within two months of the appointment of the arbitrator, except in cases involving extraordinary circumstances, upon good cause shown by a party, in cases of sufficient complexity where completion within two months is not reasonable, or if the parties mutually agree on a different schedule.

Under the USADA adjudication process, sanctions for anti-doping rule violations must be consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code, the relevant IF rules, or the USOPC National Anti-Doping Policies.

USADA pays all administrative costs relating to the testing and results management of the athlete’s sample. The athlete pays for all of their defense, including travel, legal fees, and expert witness costs. The parties’ responsibility for the costs of the arbitration process are set forth in Rules 25(c) and 45-48 of USADA’s Procedures for the Arbitration of Anti-Doping Rule Violations.

The IF receives notice of all steps in the process after a decision to move forward with a case has been made. The IF is invited to appear as a party or observer at the arbitration hearing and has the right to appeal the decision under the World Anti-Doping Code.

In many cases, if a test conducted by an IF on a U.S. athlete results in an Adverse Analytical Finding, the IF will forward the case to USADA to handle the results management process and adjudication.

Supplements

For USADA’s Supplement FAQ, please click here.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs)

For USADA’s TUE FAQ, please click here.

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