As an athlete am I subject to any sanctions in relation to doping?


The use of performance enhancing substances is a key issue which is tackled by many sports on a day to day basis. Often sports such as cycling and athletics have a lot of problems in relation to the use of banned substances but the use is by no means limited to those sports.

The regulation of the use of banned substances is overseen by the Worldwide Anti Doping Agency or WADA for short.

Worldwide Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

WADA produces a list each year detailing which substances the use of which will be banned from any sporting competition.

Where can I find this list of banned substances?

The WADA list of banned substances for 2010 can be found on the worldwide anti-doping agencies official website.

What are the Sanctions handed down by WADA?

The World Anti-Doping Agency Code specifies the following strict liability sentences for use of banned substances:

  • A first violation will attract a two year ban from participating in that sport
  • A second violation will attract a lifetime ban from participating in that sport

The prohibited list provided by WADA identifies certain specified substances which are often susceptible to the unintentional rule violations of anti-doping rules due to their general availability in standard medicinal products or which are less likely to be used as performance enhancing doping agents. In a situation where an athlete can establish that the use of such a specified substance was not in fact intended to enhance sporting performance the sanctions handed down may be reduced as follows:

  • For a first violation the minimum will be a warning or a reprimand with no ban being provided. At a maximum a first violation may attract a one year ban from participating in that sport
  • A second violation will attract a two year ban from participating in that sport
  • A third violation will attract a lifetime ban from participating in that sport

What are the UK Anti-Doping Rules?

The UK anti-doping rules were entered into force on 1 January 2009 and are overseen by UK Sport. The main issues which athletes should be aware of are as follows:

  • There is a potential for increased sanctions above the standard two year ban or period of ineligibility. The ban can be increased up to four years where there is said to be “aggravated circumstances”. An example of such aggravated circumstances is where the individual athlete is found to have used multiple prohibited substances or if they in fact obstruct the detection or adjudication process.
  • There is the potential for an athlete to lower their ban or period of ineligibility in exchange for information against others which may result in the discovery of an anti-doping rule violation or a criminal offence. 
  • National Anti-Doping Organisations are provided with the mandatory right to appeal against decisions made by all national sporting governing bodies with regards to sanctions on athletes for anti-doping rule violations. This means that the last word lies with the Anti-Doping organisations meaning that if you have been handed a suspension by the governing body of the sport in which you participate then it could be subject to change to a more stringent sanction.
  • There is now a harmonized approach across the UK in relation to the procedure for missed tests.
  • When a non-specified substance has been found in the sample provided by an athlete a mandatory sentence will have to apply across the board for all sports within the UK bring the UK rules in line with the WADA rules.
  • The rules adopted in 2009 also ensured that all cases where there has been a violation of anti-doping rules will be administered by the National Anti-Doping Panel taking this responsibility away from the national governing bodies of the individual sports within the UK.

Will the National Governing Body of my Sport adopt the rules in their entirety?

Any National Governing Body will be able to adapt the rules to their particular sport but this will only be allowed with the prior authorisation of UK Sport.