Protecting your sport from the Improper Use of Drugs and Medicines (for young adults aged 13-17)


This information is for young people aged 13 to 17 years old. It helps you understand your sport’s Improper Use of Drugs and Medicine Policy.

The Improper Use of Drugs and Medicine Policy has been created to help protect athletes in your sport from the harmful effects of medicines (when used the wrong way), supplements and illegal drugs.

The policy is in two parts:

  1. Rules that apply to everyone: Around the use of illegal drugs.
  2. Rules that only apply to some people: Around the use of supplements, medicines and injections for elite or semi-elite athletes and their personnel. In the policy these groups are called “Relevant Athletes” and “Relevant Personnel”. Your sport will be able to tell you if you are in one of these categories, and whether these rules apply to you.

Rules that apply to everyone: Illegal drugs

Nobody in your sport should be using, carrying, selling or handing out illegal drugs listed on the Criminal Code (for example, cocaine or methamphetamine).

Under this policy, no one in your sport is allowed to buy, sell, use or distribute illegal drugs, or be convicted of illegal drug activities. If they do, they will face penalties, which might range from a warning letter, education session, or a ban from sport.

Rules that only apply to some people: Supplements, medicines and injections

The rules around supplements, medicines and injections only apply to “Relevant Athletes” and their personnel – including people like coaches, doctors and managers.

A person regarded as a Relevant Athlete might vary from sport to sport, but it usually means someone competing at a high level in a national or state sporting competition, or representing their state or country. If you are participating at an elite or semi-elite level, you should check with your sport to see if you are a “Relevant Athlete” or “Relevant Personnel”.

All athletes must be fully aware of the substances they put into their body, not only for their health and safety, but also to ensure they comply with the anti-doping rules as specified by the World Anti-Doping (WAD) Code.

What are Relevant Athletes and Personnel not allowed to do?

Members of your sport in this category are not allowed to:

  • Supply, use or administer unauthorised injections or be in possession of unauthorised injection equipment.
  • Supply supplements to Relevant Athletes that may contain substances that are prohibited under the WAD Code, or under Australian food and medicine regulations.
  • Buy, sell, use or distribute illegal drugs (or be convicted of illegal drug activities).
  • Buy, sell, use or distribute medication that is not prescribed to the person using it, or not being used for a specific medical condition as directed by a medical practitioner.

What should you do if you think someone might be using drugs or medicines improperly?

The rules say that everyone in your sport must report any suspicious activity that might be breaking the rules above.

If you see improper/illegal use of drugs or medicine, or if you feel that someone might be planning to use such drugs or medicine, you should talk to an adult you trust.

They, or you, can report it to your local law enforcement (the police), your National Sporting Organisation’s Integrity Manager, or directly to Sport Integrity Australia at Making an Integrity Complaint or Report.

What can you do if you feel unsafe?

If you, or anyone under the age of 18, is feeling unsafe about anything to do with the improper use of illegal drugs or medicine, or any other issue in sport, you are protected by the Child Safeguarding Policy. This is a policy especially created for you, and is separate to this Improper Use of Drugs and Medicine Policy.

The Child Safeguarding Policy says that adults who work or volunteer at your sport have a responsibility to support and help you. They must listen to you, hear what you say and do something to stop anything bad from happening to you.

If you feel really upset about something that has happened to you, or if you need help to make it stop, you should speak to someone you trust. This can be a family member, or an adult you trust in your sport.

Other ways you can get help

Free and confidential* online and phone counselling/advice services. You can call or chat anytime, for any reason.

*Confidential means the person you speak to will not share what you tell them with anybody without your agreement, unless you or someone else is in danger.