ANTI-DOPING RULE VIOLATION

It’s wise to know all doping rules

Athletes are subjected to random and targeted selection methods.

In Summary
  • Athletes should know that their urine and blood samples can be collected anytime and anywhere for purposes of doping control.
  • However, an athlete can ask for additional information about the sample collection process and even request a delay in reporting to the doping control station for valid reasons.
An athlete wear a shirt bearing anti-doping message in Eldoret.
An athlete wear a shirt bearing anti-doping message in Eldoret.
Image: FILE

Most times athletes are caught between a rock and a hard place when immediately after their performance doping control officers notify them of their selection for sample collection. Sometimes, given the stature of the competition, the athlete might at that very moment be required to respond to journalists and pose for photos as per the contractual agreements with sponsors.

This means that they may not be in a position to honour both activities requiring immediate attention and which may have consequences when forfeited. So then, can an athlete request a delay in reporting to the doping control station?  The answer is a profound yes!

For starters, athletes should know that their urine and blood samples can be collected anytime and anywhere for purposes of doping control. This is in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines on sample collection.

However, an athlete can ask for additional information about the sample collection process and even request a delay in reporting to the doping control station for valid reasons (eg attending a medal ceremony, further competition commitments, fulfilling media commitments, needing medical treatment). This is an inalienable right to the athlete, which means that the process of sample collection is not as rigid as has been insinuated in some quarters.

It is important for athletes to note that from the time of notification to the end of the doping control process, they will be accompanied at all times by chaperones or doping control officers (technically referred to as sample collection personnel). The athlete has a responsibility to ensure that once notified they report to the doping control station as soon as possible and remain in sight of the doping control official at all times.

While playing cat-and-mouse games with sample collection personnel may look like the easiest way out for athletes out to avoid being tested, it comes with a heavy price to pay. It sidelines the athletes from their counterparts and coaches, casts aspersions on their integrity and provides grounds speculation on their character.

It is worth noting that evading sample collection or, without compelling justification, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection after notification as authorised in applicable anti-doping rules is an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV). This can attract a ban of between two and four years.

Critically, athletes need to familiarise themselves with all ADRVs and their resultant sanctions to avoid being caught flat-footed and suffering the consequences. The sample collection process is an integral part of the whole doping control process, and it is for this reason that an athlete must declare any hindrance to immediate reporting at the doping control station upon notification.

Sometimes, due to the excitement of posting good results, an athlete can easily be distracted and forget that they had been selected for doping control. Athletes have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with the whole process and this therefore shifts the risk of an ADRV to them should they contradict this principle.

Athletes are subjected to random and targeted selection methods. In targeted selection, the testing authority may decide to test the top-three athletes in a competition. It may also go for any other athlete who they may have an interest in, especially if there are compelling reasons as to the performance of that athlete. Random testing, on the other hand, can be carried out on any athlete without necessarily focusing on parameters that necessitate the test.

In the infamous alleged Russian state-sponsored doping fiasco, athletes are said to have been simply running away when they saw an anti-doping official turn up at a competition. In other cases, several formally withdrew from an event when they realised their urine was about to be tested or merely failed to show up for the start of the race. It is claimed that one of the runners disappeared halfway into a race. These acts of omission and commission by the athletes added to the myriad of other issues that saw Russia sanctioned by WADA.

 
 
 

In Kenya, Hamburg marathon bronze medalist Jacob Kendagor was, in June this year, handed a provisional suspension by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection.

While playing cat-and-mouse games with sample collection personnel may look like the easiest way out for athletes out to avoid being tested, it comes with a heavy price to pay. It sidelines the athletes from their counterparts and coaches, casts aspersions on their integrity and provides grounds speculation on their character.

Immediate former Head of Corporate Communications, Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya