Information and advice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

This is a time of uncertainty for all athletes. We have a list of resources that may help you find the information you need.

 

We have created this page to share information in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to our testing procedure. 

We are continuously reviewing our processes and procedures to ensure that they are in line with the latest government guidance. The health and welfare of athletes and doping control staff will always be our number one priority.  

This Q&A helps to explain the changes that have been made to testing procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As always, we continue to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI). The changes to the sample collection process are applied to keep athletes and our staff safe.   

WADA and their Athletes Committee have put together information to guide athletes through any concerns about anti-doping operations. This information is available the WADA website.

This information was last updated November 2020.  

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

How will Sport Integrity Australia manage testing in instances of regional lockdown?  

We are constantly reviewing the COVID-19 hotspots and conduct a risk assessment before proceeding with any test mission. The health and welfare of athletes and staff will always be our number one priority. Just remember that testing can take place anywhere, any time, and will continue to take place, where it is deemed safe. 

The situation is constantly changing. We are abiding by and monitoring government advice and updating our test planning and operations as we need to. We will continue to update our advice to athletes and doping control staff as new information comes to hand. 

Are there differences in the sample collection procedures in light of the different lockdown measures across the country? 

In locations where testing is possible, the process has been modified to maintain social distancing requirements. We have taken steps to minimise the number of doping control staff at missions without compromising the test collection, and we have introduced enhanced safety process, including the wearing of personal protection equipment and increased cleaning and sanitising.  

What changes has Sport Integrity Australia made to testing procedures following the COVID-19 outbreak? 

A 1.5 metre distance will be maintained where possible between the athlete, the doping control staff and any third parties. There are times these may need to be temporarily relaxed to allow the doping control process to occur, such as when collecting blood. Doping Control facilities will need to be large enough to accommodate the 1.5 metre rule, including the toilet space when providing a urine sample.   

Doping control staff will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) from the moment they arrive at the testing venue until they depart. PPE includes masks and double gloves. Athletes, and anyone attending the test with the athlete will be offered PPE (gloves and face masks only), should they wish to wear them.  

Pens are not to be shared during the process. Each athlete will be offered a sanitised pen.    

Doping control staff will change gloves after every sample collection session. All surfaces will be disinfected before and after every sample collection session. 

How is Sport Integrity Australia going to protect athletes and doping control staff during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Our doping control staff have clear procedures to follow during testing. These include rigorous attention to hygiene, adherence to social distancing protocols and the use of personal protection equipment. This keeps athletes and doping control staff safe while upholding the integrity of the testing process. 

Doping control staff who show symptoms will not be involved in testing missions. 

All doping control staff have completed the Australian Department of Health Infection Control training course and received guidance on how to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Broadly, the guidance is: 

  • Do not work if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. 
  • Wash your hands frequently.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 
  • Minimise transmission risk when you cough or sneeze.  

What samples will be collected from athletes? 

Both urine and/or blood samples will continue to be collected from athletes.  

Will doping control staff visit athletes at home to carry out testing? 

Yes, we will continue to test anywhere, any time.  

What do I need to do if I am required to Isolate, or have had contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19? 

Athletes who are required to isolate need to advise their National Sporting Organisation. 

If you are on Sport Integrity Australia’s Registered Testing Pool (RTP) or Domestic Testing Pool (DTP), please notify us by email at contactus@sportintegrity.gov.au 

When you contact us, please include the following information: 

  • Reason for self-isolation (positive test, awaiting test result, close contact, or returned from overseas). 
  • Date self-isolation commenced. 

We request that you keep us up to date with any test results. 

Make sure you keep your whereabouts information up to date if you need to provide it. 

What if the athlete is self-isolating when doping control staff arrive? 

On arrival at the athlete’s home, the doping control staff will ask a series of questions which will determine if the testing can take place. These questions are: 

  • Are you self-isolating, or awaiting a test result for COVID-19? 
  • In the last 14 days have you or anyone that you live with, returned from an identified high risk COVID area or location? (as determined by the health authority in that state) 
  • In the last 14 days, have you or anyone that you have been in close contact with tested positive for COVID-19? (close contact is defined as within 1.5 metres for more than 15 minutes) 

If the athlete answers YES to any of these questions, the doping control staff will not enter the athlete’s home. The athlete will be required to complete and sign a form declaring their self-isolation. The doping control staff will then ask the athlete to hold the completed form while they take a photo of it.  

If athlete answers NO to all the questions, the doping control staff will proceed with the sample collection process.  

What are the consequences for not complying with the amended testing procedure? 

Failure to comply with a request to supply a sample may constitute an anti-doping rule violation, which could result in being sanctioned and a ban from all sport.  

What if an athlete or the doping control staff start to develop COVID-19 symptoms after testing? 

If at any time in the two weeks following testing, you are required to self-isolate (as a precautionary measure) or are diagnosed with COVID-19 please contact Sport Integrity Australia as soon as practicable by phone 1300 027 232 or email athlete@sportintegrity.gov.au   

The symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a high temperature (at least 38°C) and shortness of breath. These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. This information is provided to all athletes at the end of the testing session. 

Athletes can contact the Health Direct Hotline on 1800 022 222 if you’re feeling unwell or would like to check your symptoms. 

What can an athlete do to help the testing process? 

The process will take longer than usual due to additional control measures and to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone involved. We ask that athletes allow doping control staff to set the pace for the test collection session, and that they follow the Doping Control Officer’s instructions.   

Verbal communication throughout the process will be key due to social distancing, for example the Doping Control Officer will need to guide the athlete through the process of splitting the sample from 1.5 metres away. 

Athletes can help protect the doping control staff by: 

  • observing social distancing rules – always keeping a 1.5 metre distance and staying within sight 
  • not trying to rush the process 
  • performing proper hand hygiene practices – hand washing or hand sanitising (the chaperone can provide advice on the correct techniques if required). 

What can an athlete do if they have any concerns over the testing process? 

If the athlete has any concerns about the process, they should speak to the doping control staff immediately.    

The athlete can also record any concerns they have on the Doping Control Form, or provide feedback via the Sport Integrity app. 

What if a different agency to Sport Integrity Australia comes to test me? 

An athlete can be tested by their own National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO), such as Sport Integrity Australia, and they can also be tested by the NADO of a country in which the athlete is training or living in.  

In addition to this, athletes may be tested by the International Federation for their sport. 

WADA has urged all Anti-Doping Organisations to follow the advice of governments and health authorities to ensure proper protection of athletes and doping control staff. Athletes should comply with the doping control staff during testing, while adhering to the guidance in the country where the test is being completed. 

If an athlete has any questions about this, they should contact their sport, International Federation, as well as Sport Integrity Australia. Refusing a test may result in a sanction and a ban from all sport. 

The changes to the testing procedure outlined here apply to tests conducted by Sport Integrity Australia in this country.