U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)

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Sample Collection Process

An important piece of any anti-doping program is sample collection or the process of securing an athlete’s blood, urine, dried blood spot, and/or other World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approved sample, completing documentation, as well as preparing and shipping the sample to a laboratory accredited by WADA. USADA is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), and USADA’s sample collection process is fully compliant with the Code and International Standard for Testing & Investigations (ISTI).

The sample collection process is designed to be a safe process, and as comfortable as possible for athletes, while ensuring that the sample integrity is maintained throughout. The sample collection process is a standard procedure, from notification of the athlete to the shipment of the sample to the laboratory.

Read more about the blood and urine sample collection process using the links below.

Urine Collection

Blood Collection

What Happens to
My Sample

Click here to see how the sample collection process has been modified with COVID-19 safety protocols.

All videos are copyrighted property of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The material contained within may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, or otherwise used, except with the express written permission of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Additional Considerations for Impaired Athletes

Due to the sensitive nature of drug testing and the physical requirements for an athlete during sample collection, there are additional considerations for athletes with impairments.

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Athlete's Rights


**NOTE: As defined by the Code: “Refusing, or failing without compelling justification, to submit to sample collection after notification as authorized in applicable anti-doping rules or otherwise evading sample collection is an anti-doping rule violation.”

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USADA is committed to making sport safe, fair, and authentic at all levels of competition, through independent and comprehensive anti-doping programs. One key component of a successful anti-doping program is strategic drug testing, in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code. USADA’s gold standard testing program utilizes in-competition testing and out-of-competition testing, which can occur at any time and any location. Athletes selected for testing may be required to provide urine, blood, or both. This applies to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, International and Masters Level athletes, and Junior athletes.

When a doping control officer, or DCO, notifies athletes that they have been selected for testing, the DCO must show the athlete their credential. If the DCO is not the same gender as the athlete, they’ll be accompanied by a chaperone of the athlete’s gender who can supervise the provision of the sample. The athlete is then required to produce identification and stay within direct view of the DCO or chaperone until the test is concluded. Athletes are required to report immediately to an out-of-competition location or to the in-competition doping control station, unless the DCO approves a valid reason for reason for delay, such as cooling down, attending a medal ceremony, fulfilling a media commitment, or receiving medical attention. Athletes do have the right to have a representative present.

For urine samples, minor athletes are also required to have a third-party present in the toilet area where they can monitor the DCO or chaperone during the provision of the sample. Athletes with disabilities have the right to request necessary modifications to the testing process. All athletes are asked to provide a sample of at least 90 milliliters of urine under the direct observation of a DCO or witnessing chaperone. If 90 milliliters are not immediately available, athletes will store the partial sample in a secure vault and use another collection cup to secure the remaining sample when ready. After staying in view of the chaperone and then providing a full sample, athletes will be offered a choice of sealed sample collection equipment that contain two security bottles marked “A” and “B”. They should inspect the equipment prior to use, and the DCO should instruct the athlete to ensure that the alphanumeric code on the bottles match and correspond to the barcode on the outside of the box. This is critical, since the athletes name will not appear on the documentation sent to the lab, to ensure anonymity. Athletes will then divide their sample between the “A” and “B” sample bottles, secure the bottles, and seal them for shipping. Athletes are to maintain direct observation and control of their sample until it’s sealed.

A sample collection session may include a blood collection. Some USADA DCOs will be licensed or certified phlebotomists. But if they are not, a certified and/or licensed phlebotomist, called a Blood Collection Officer, or BCO, will perform the blood draw. Athletes are asked to stay seated for a period of time before blood is drawn. Less than two tablespoons of blood is needed for testing, which should not affect athletic performance. Complications from a blood draw are rare, but can include, fainting, dizziness, bruising at the puncture site, or hematoma, nerve injury, and arterial puncture or laceration. Site reactions such as bruising or swelling can be minimized by applying pressure to the collection site for at least five minutes, avoiding strenuous exercise for at least 30 minutes, and keeping the bandage on for at least two hours. If you have ever experienced complications from a past blood draw, please bring them to the attention of the USADA DCO before the blood draw begins.

After securing the sample, the DCO will review the Doping Control Official Record, or DCOR, with an athlete, at which time, they will declare their use of any medications, supplements, or treatments before signing the DCOR. Athletes are encouraged to discuss any concerns with the DCO and to provide feedback to USADA. Please visit USADA.org for more information about the sample collection process.