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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

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 preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport, and protect the rights of athletes.

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 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 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 of 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 United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (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 a license holder of a USOPC-recognized sport NGB
  • Is participating at an event or competition sanctioned by the USOPC or a USOPC-recognized NGB or participating at an event or competition in the United States sanctioned by an International Olympic Committee-recognized International Federation (IF) for sport
  • Is a foreign athlete who is present in the United States
  • Has given his/her consent to testing by USADA or who has submitted a Whereabouts Filing to USADA or an IF within the previous 12 months and has not given his/her NGB written notice of retirement
  • Has been named by the USOPC or an NGB to an international team or who is included in the USADA testing pool or is competing in a qualifying event to represent the USOPC or NGB in international competition
  • Is a United States athlete or foreign athlete present in the United States who is serving a period of ineligibility due to an anti-doping rule violation and has not given prior written notice of retirement to his/her NGB and USADA or the applicable foreign anti-doping agency or foreign sport association
  • Is being tested by USADA under authorization from the USOPC, an NGB, IF, any National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO), WADA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC), or the organizing committee of any event or competition

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 their anti-doping programs are conducted privately in-house by these organizations. However, professional and collegiate athletes who also participate in Olympic sports (e.g. basketball, hockey) are subject to USADA testing in the lead up to the Games. 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 and healthy performance, sportsmanship, and character building and 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 a revised Code in November 2007 and in 2013. The current version of the Code became effective on January 1, 2015. The Code and all of the International Standards can be found at www.wada-ama.org.

Testing

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 as part of its program. USADA utilizes special analysis testing including, but not limited to, hGH and CIR 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.

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

USADA’s out-of-competition testing plan is design 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 the 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.

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 test. If they refuse to cooperate or fail to report to testing within the given time frame, the athlete will be subject to all consequences consistent with an anti-doping rule violation.

For more information, please click here.

Yes, USADA informs the athlete of all test results, including negative findings, and the USOPC and the relevant NGB have access to information about all negative results.

In-competition refers to the period commencing 12 hours before a competition in which the athlete is scheduled to participate through the end of the competition and the sample collection process related to the competition.

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

Definitions for In-Competition and Out-of-Competition are taken from the WADA Code.

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

Whereabouts

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 so as to be available for out-of-competition testing. CAP athletes, however, are subject to limited Whereabouts requirements as part of USADA’s strategic testing plan, which in part, is designed to make Whereabouts requirements for athletes proportional to testing.

For more information, 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 much 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 the intended level of competition. 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 responsibility of the athletes to update USADA any time their schedules change from that which they have submitted on their 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/she will complete an Unsuccessful Attempt Report and submit this 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 sends the athlete a letter notifying him/her. 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., full addresses, dates, or 60-minute windows are missing).

Highlighting the importance of accurate and complete Whereabouts, a Filing Failure may also be issued if a Doping Control Officer (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.

While Whereabouts 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

The World Anti-Doping Agency has a committee (List Committee), comprised of experts from around the world who determine the list of prohibited substances and methods while considering input from all interested stakeholders. 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 what substances are prohibited. However, USADA provides a number of drug reference resources to help athletes understand what 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 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.

Results Management

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 present for the ”B” sample opening.

The “B” sample opening and analysis typically occur within 10 working days after the Adverse Analytical Finding report by the laboratory.

This is considered a positive test and the test results are turned over to the Anti-Doping Review Board for its review and recommendation.

The Anti-Doping Review Board is a group of experts independent of USADA with medical, technical, and legal knowledge of doping matters. These experts review the evidence provided by USADA, as well as relevant information from the athlete, to make a recommendation as to whether they believe there is sufficient evidence of doping or other rule violations to proceed with the adjudication process. The Anti-Doping Review Board does not decide an athlete’s sanction. If an athlete elects to exercise his/her right to an independent arbitration hearing, independent arbitrators from the American Arbitration Association/Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA/CAS) will hear the case and render the decision.

The Anti-Doping Review Board generally meets within three weeks after a “B” sample analysis confirms an Adverse Analytical Finding.

After the Anti-Doping Review Board presents its recommendation to USADA, USADA will notify the athlete or other person in writing whether USADA considers the matter closed or alternately what specific charges or alleged violations will be adjudicated and what sanction USADA is seeking to have imposed. USADA forwards the Anti-Doping Review Board’s recommendation to the athlete, the relevant NGB, the USOPC, the relevant IF and WADA.

Yes. The athlete has the right to contest the sanction sought by USADA.

The athlete may elect to proceed to a hearing before the American Arbitration Association (AAA) using a single arbitrator (or a three-arbitrator panel, if requested by either of the parties) selected from a pool of the North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) arbitrators, who are also AAA arbitrators.

The American Arbitration Association Supplementary Procedures for Adjudication of Doping Disputes (the “AAA Supplementary Procedures”) and the USADA Protocol apply to the hearing before the AAA. The regular CAS Appellate rules apply to hearings held before CAS.

The AAA Supplementary Procedures require that the requested hearing takes place within three months of the appointment of the arbitrator(s).

Under the USADA adjudication process, the sanction must be consistent with the WADA Code, the relevant International Federation rules, or the USOPC Anti-Doping Policies.

Administrative costs of the USADA adjudication process (AAA filing fee, AAA administrative costs, AAA arbitrator fees and costs) are paid by the USOPC. USADA pays all administrative costs relating to the testing and results management of the athlete’s sample, including the USADA review process. The athlete pays for all of his/her defense, including travel, legal fees, and expert witness costs.

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 AAA/CAS hearing and has the right to appeal the decision under the WADA 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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