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 of the components of the anti-doping program, including the testing and results management processes, for all USOC-recognized sport national governing bodies and their athletes, as well as events. In addition, USADA is responsible for drug reference resources, such as the therapeutic use exemption process, scientific research initiatives, and athlete education.
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 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 USOC. The USOC took the important step to externalize the anti-doping program, and USADA’s creation as a separate and independent anti-doping entity is 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 1-866-601-2632. USADA’s main fax number is 719-785-2001. USADA’s general email address is email@example.com.
Athletes and their support personnel can contact USADA’s Athlete Express resource by calling 719-785-2000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Our mailing address is 5555 Tech Center Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80919-2372. For more information, please click here.
Generally not. 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. One exception is professional athletes who also participate in Olympic sports (e.g. basketball, hockey). These athletes 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 related to anti-doping, 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 aimed at youth level athletes and their support systems to promote character building, sportsmanship, and healthy performance.
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. 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 five international standards that include:
- The Prohibited List
- The International Standard for Testing & Investigations
- The International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions
- The International Standard for Laboratories
- The International Standard for Protection of Privacy and Public Information
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 WADA 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.
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 please click here.
When developing its Test Distribution Plan, a plan for efficient, effective, and intelligent allocation of testing resources, USADA’s considerations are consistent with WADA’s International Standards for Testing & Investigations (ISTI). These standards, at a minimum, may include:
- Physical demands of the sport and possible performance-enhancing effect that doping may elicit
- Available doping analysis statistics
- Available research on doping trends
- The history of doping in the sport and/or discipline
- Training periods and the competition calendar
- Information received on possible doping practices
- Resources aimed at the detection of doping may be specifically targeted
- USADA retains the right to test any athlete at any time.
All NGBs are required to provide a list of athletes for inclusion in the USADA Registered Testing Pool at least quarterly. With respect to each athlete on the list and any additional athletes designated by USADA for inclusion in the USADA Registered Testing Pool, each athlete receives an OOC packet from USADA which includes a USADA Guide to Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods in Doping, wallet card, pertinent forms, and educational materials. After initial entry into the USADA RTP, it is the responsibility of each individual athlete to provide USADA with current and updated information specifying his/her whereabouts (see FAQ section on Whereabouts). On a quarterly basis, USADA posts the names of the U.S. athletes who have been tested by USADA. For more information please click here.
If selected for inclusion in the USADA RTP, the suspended athlete must comply with all requirements of the USADA RTP during the period of ineligibility, including submitting current and up-to-date athlete whereabouts information to USADA.
Any athlete who retires must promptly inform USADA and his/her respective NGB, in writing. Also, the athlete should check with his/her respective International Federation (IF) for its policy on retirement. Under the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Anti-Doping Policies, any athlete who has not provided advance written notice of retirement to USADA and then refuses to participate in a USADA Out-of Competition (OOC) test claiming retirement will be subject to ineligibility for up to four years. For more information please click here.
Yes, USADA informs the athlete of all test results, including negative findings, and the USOC and the relevant NGB have access to information about all negative result.
In-competition refers to the period commencing twelve 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?
Elite athletes in USADA’s registered testing pool are required to submit their detailed location information, often referred to as whereabouts, so that they can be located and available for out-of-competition, no-notice testing year-round.
As long as an athlete is enrolled in the USADA Registered Testing Pool (RTP), and is required to submit whereabouts, he or she must submit a Whereabouts Filing to USADA on a quarterly basis. Deadlines for submission are: December 31, March 31, June 30 and September 30. For more information on whereabouts please click here.
Any time their schedules change from that which has previously been provided in the quarterly submission, an update should be submitted. There are many ways to conveniently provide updates. See next question for details.
Athletes may submit updates in several ways, including: online at www.usada.org, via email to email@example.com (email must come from an email address that USADA has on file), via text message to firstname.lastname@example.org. USADA also provides an Updater App available on iOS and Android devices.
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 as to whether to declare a Whereabouts Failure – Missed Test.
Yes. All final decision letters regarding a Whereabouts Failure (either Missed Test or Filing Failure) will advise the athlete that he/she may request a review by an administrative panel under the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) National Anti-Doping Policy. The administrative review panel is composed of three members of the USADA Board of Directors or their designees. This panel will review only written materials and determine whether to overturn or uphold the Whereabouts Failure decision. This panel’s review is not a hearing and is not binding in any subsequent hearing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has a committee (List Committee), comprised of experts from around the world, that determines the list of prohibited substances and methods, and receives input from all interested stakeholders. All signatories to the WADA Code follow the WADA Prohibited List.
The WADA Prohibited List identifies those prohibited 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.
For information on prohibited substances, please click here. An athlete must check the WADA Prohibited List 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 is prohibited please visit GlobalDRO.org. Additionally, USADA provides a drug reference phone line. To speak to an expert, call 719-785-2000. 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
USADA provides prohibited status information on medication including prescription and over-the-counter brands through its Global DRO service. However, this service does not apply to dietary supplement products because supplements have been found to contain ingredients that are not listed on the label, and because there are an estimated 85,000+ dietary supplement on the market that have not gone through the type of pre-market tests required in the prescription drug market. Thus, it is impossible to determine with 100% accuracy whether a particular dietary supplement is safe to use or free from prohibited substances. Detailed information about the dietary supplement marketplace can be found at USADA’s Supplement411.org resource.
The WADA prohibited list determines the specific, individual substances and methods prohibited in sport. Unlike medication, which usually contains one active ingredient, in most instances, a dietary supplement is made up of multiple substances combined into a single product. The current regulatory framework in the supplement industry makes it difficult to track, monitor, or oversee the safety and accuracy of dietary supplement ingredients, as supplements are not regulated in the same way as medication. There are a number of factors which distinguish medications from dietary supplements, and no resource for determining a dietary supplement’s prohibited status exists. USADA does provide a High Risk List of products that have been determined to either contain prohibited substances that are either listed on the label, or that have been tested and found to contain prohibited substances NOT listed on the label. For more information, including steps athletes can take to reduce the risk associated with dietary 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. Medical or other scientific evidence, pharmacological effect or experience that the substance/method has the potential to enhance sports performance.
2. Medical or other scientific evidence, pharmacological effect or experience that the use of the substance/method represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete.
3. WADA’s determination that the use of the substance/method violates the spirit of sport.
Even though Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) contains some growth factors from your blood, WADA has clarified that PRP is not prohibited. Individual growth factors are still prohibited when given separately or if they are added to any PRP treatment as purified substances as described on the Prohibited List Section S2.5.
Stem cell injections may or may not be prohibited, depending on how the cellular material is manipulated or modified for use. If the stem cells could or will cause performance enhancement, then the procedure is prohibited under either M1 Manipulation of Blood or Blood Components or M3 Gene Doping. How does an athlete know if stem cells cause performance enhancement? Since stem cell treatments vary widely, USADA needs detailed information to make this determination. If you are considering receiving stem cells as a part of any procedure, then please contact USADA on drugreference@USADA.org and provide detailed information about the procedure and origin of the stem cells.
Click here to learn more about stem cell therapies.
Iron and related ferrous salts are currently not prohibited as a substance, but the volume used to administer the intravenous iron product may be prohibited. WADA restricts the volume an athlete can receive intravenously, prohibiting injections of more than 100mL per 12 hour period. Some injectable iron preparations are designed to be administered by a simple IV push. For example, Injectafer 750mg per 15mL is not prohibited if delivered in a 15mL push. However, diluting it in a volume greater than 100mLs is prohibited.
Some iron or ferrous salts must be diluted for the safe administration into a person’s vein because an incorrectly concentrated IV or a different administration rate may cause a potentially deadly reaction. Talk to your prescriber about permitted alternatives such as a small volume IV push, or pill. If your physician determines that these are not appropriate for you, and that your medical condition requires an IV infusion of iron, then you should submit a Therapeutic Use Exemption application.
After receiving notification from the laboratory of an Adverse Analytical Finding or if USADA has decided to move forward with a non-analytical case (proof of a violation based upon evidence other than an adverse analytic finding), USADA will notify the athlete, the USOC, 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 violation 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 USOC, 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 USOC 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 USOC. 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.