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UK Athletics

changes to wada code for 2015

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Wada Code 2015
13 January 2015

Changes introduced by the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code

The 2015 World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) is the result of an extensive, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) led consultation process. The principle changes are listed below:

  • Increase of the standard period of ineligibility for “presence”, “use” or “possession” of a non-specified substance from 2 years to 4 years unless the athlete can establish that the violation was unintentional

  • Increase of the standard period of eligibility for “presence”, “use” or “possession” of a  specified substance from 2 years to 4 years where the Anti-Doping Organisation (ADO) can prove that the violation was intentional

  • Prompt admission of an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) will no longer automatically bring with it a reduced sanction which, from 2015, would need the approval of WADA and the ADO

  • Two new ADRVs have been introduced (Complicity and Prohibited Association), increasing the number of listed ADRVs from 8 to 10. The definition of the ADRV of Tampering has been widened

  • Greater flexibility in sanctioning has been introduced where the athlete can demonstrate that he was not cheating (e.g. where a product is contaminated)

  • Whereabouts strikes (missed tests and filing failures) will only be live for 12 months (from the current 18 months)

  • The increased importance of investigations and intelligence has been highlighted in the text of the 2015 WADC

  • The statute of limitations is increased in the 2015 Code from 8 years to 10 years

  • The 2015 WADC aims to better address athlete support personnel who are involved in doping (by bringing support personnel under relevant rules, ensuring that an ADRV by a minor or by several athletes linked to a support personnel automatically triggers an investigation into that support personnel, introducing a new “Prohibited Association” ADRV)

  • Additional emphasis on smart test distribution planning and smart menus is included in the 2015 WADC (by introducing a Technical Document which identifies prohibited substances and methods which are most likely to be abused in different sports or sport disciplines and restricting ADOs from using a narrower range of substances to test)

  • Whilst the criteria for selection of substances for the prohibited list has been retained, the decision limit for the laboratory’s reporting of marijuana has been increased to address the disproportionate amount of resources being used in results management of low-level marijuana findings

  • Athletes who retire from the Testing Pool and return to competition have to give a certain amount of notice to the ADO before they could compete again, the 2015 WADC harmonises this period at 6 months

  • With the consent of all parties the 2015 WADC allows a first instance results management case to be heard directly by CAS, but with no right of appeal of the CAS decision

  • The 2015 WADC makes it clear that educational programmes should focus on prevention of doping


Issues to consider with the introduction of the 2015 WADC

The 4-year sanction was possible (from a starting point of 2 years) in the 2009 WADC however from 1st January 2015 4 years will generally be the starting point for ADRVs. Potentially, those charged with an ADRV will be able to argue for a reduced sanction (based on degree of fault, nature of the substance and extent of cooperation etc) as they can now with, in exceptional circumstances, the possibility of reducing the sanction completely.

The reduction of the period whereabouts strikes remain live (12 months) still allows ADOs to target athletes who are avoiding testing whilst reducing the risk for athletes collecting whereabouts strikes inadvertently or through carelessness.

The increase in the statute of limitations will allow a longer period for the retesting of samples (allowing an extra 2 years for the development of analysis techniques) which may have the effect of increasing the number of historic findings with the consequent reshuffling of medals etc.

The promotion of tailoring analysis to the potential of abuse of substances in certain sports or disciplines should allow for more intelligent testing leading to potential cost-saving through the reduction of ineffective analysis.

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