Doping in Team Sports

If a member of a team is found guilty of a doping offence does this affect the whole team or just the individual player?

There have been many instances within sport where individual athletes have been found guilty of a doping offence and so have received an automatic ban in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.

If an individual athlete is found to be in breach of this code then they face a strict liability punishment of a two year ban for their first offence and life for the second offence.

The fact that the offence of doping is strictly liable means that it will apply regardless of whether that person was aware of taking that banned substance or whether they intended to enhance their performance by taking the substance.

Two of the most renowned sports for problems with doping are track events in the world of athletics and cycling. Both of these sports are perceived as individual sports but it is often the case that the individuals enter the events as part of a team. It has been in this area that we have seen examples of teams being disqualified for the failure of a doping test by one of the members of that team.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code

Article 11 of the WADA Code states the following:

  • Where more than one team member in a team sport has been notified of a possible anti-doping rule violation the team shall be subject to target testing for the event. If more than one team member in a team sport is found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation during the event, the team may be subject to disqualification or other disciplinary action.

Article 11 further qualifies this above provision by stating the following:

  • In sports which are not team sports but where awards are given to teams, disqualification or other disciplinary action against the team when one or more team members have committed an anti-doping rule violation shall be provided for in the rules of the requisite International Federation.

Thus following article 11 we can see that in sports such as athletics or cycling whereby the athletes compete as individuals but in some cases as part of a team it is up to the International Federation of that particular sport to make the final decision on punishment.

Example of when Article 11 came into play

The second part of Article 11 was cited as the reason that the British men’s 4 x 100m relay squad was stripped of their gold medals following the positive doping test submitted by team member Dwain Chambers.

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For more information on:

  • What is the case in traditional team sports such as football?
  • Wales vs. UEFA
  • What was the decision of the CAS?
  • So what can we draw from this case?