2021 World Anti-Doping Code
The World Anti-Doping Code
The World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) was first adopted in 2004 and is the document that harmonises regulations regarding anti-doping across all sports and all countries.
The Code was never designed to be a document that stood still. As anti-doping developed, so would the ideas that would form future rules, regulations and policies. The fully collaborative review process involves the whole anti-doping community, all of whom seek to strengthen the Code for the benefit of athletes around the world.
WADA began its third review of the Code in 2017. This was finalised in November 2019. The 2021 World Anti-Doping Code came into effect on 1 January 2021.
Adopting the Code in Australia
Changes to the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code requires updates to the Anti-Doping policies adopted by Australian sports.
For athletes and others involved in sport, it is important to understand the changes and how they affect you.
Summary of Code changes
We have put together for a guide to help explain the major changes between the 2015 Code and the 2021 Code.
Importance of Health recognised in the Code
In 2004, the first World Anti-Doping Code was published to harmonise anti-doping rules across the world. With an initial focus on fair play and ethics in sport the Code has now, elevated health as a main driver for anti-doping rules.
Athletes’ Anti-Doping Rights Act
The Athletes’ Anti-Doping Rights Act is based on the 2021 Code and Standards and aims to ensure that all athlete anti-doping rights are clearly set out and accessible in one document with universal applicability. The Act includes rights:
during testing missions
- to a fair, independent, timely hearing
- to medical treatment
- to report concerns without the threat of retribution or retaliation
- to education
- to data protection
- to compensation, and
- to B Sample analysis.
The full Act is available on the World Anti-Doping Agency website.
Category of athletes
The way athletes are categorised under the new Code has changed slightly. It’s important for athletes to know which category they are in and what rights and responsibilities they have.
The four categories of athletes are based on an athlete’s level of competition namely:
Protected Person is a new definition in the 2021 Code for an athlete who is:
- under 16,
- under 18 and not in any Registered Testing Pool or that has never competed in an open category at an International Event, or
- for reasons other than age, otherwise lacks legal capacity under applicable domestic legislation.
Under the 2021 Code, Protected Persons that commit an anti-doping rule violation may receive less severe consequences or sanctions, and the details of their violation(s) will ordinarily not be made public.
For cases involving a Protected Person the sanction from sport can range from a reprimand to a maximum ban of 2 years, depending on the level of fault and the type of violation.
Definition of National Level Athlete and published sporting events
Change to National Level Athlete
In order to adopt the 2021 Code in Australia a change was made to our anti-doping legislation that redefines a National Level Athlete. This change allows Sport Integrity Australia to identify Lower Level athletes.
A National Level Athlete is now defined as any athlete:
- preparing for, or competing in, any of the declared events listed on Sport Integrity Australia’s website
- on any Sport Integrity Australia Testing Pool.
Any athlete who does not compete in any of the declared events listed or isn’t on a Testing Pool, may be considered as a Lower-Level Athlete.
An athlete will remain a National Level Athlete until the conclusion of the declared event, or if:
- they continue to train for or compete in declared events, or
- they remain on a testing pool.
Declared Sporting Events or Competitions
Sport Integrity Australia publishes a list of ‘declared sporting events or competitions’ that helps to define who would be considered a National-Level Athlete.
National Sporting Organisations and Sport Integrity Australia work together to select only those events where the athletes that are competing have access to anti-doping education and understand their anti-doping responsibilities. For Lower-Level Athletes, the Sport Integrity Australia CEO has a discretion on whether to proceed with a matter and, if a violation is proven, has greater flexibility in recommending a sanction. The discretion relates only to anti-doping rule violations that are not associated with testing, for example, Trafficking or Possession of a prohibited substance or prohibited method.
Some sports may not have any events that meet the threshold to be a ‘declared event. This means that all of their athletes are defined as Lower-Level athletes and can be afforded flexibility in sanctioning for a non-testing related anti-doping rule violations. It is important to note this flexibility is not guaranteed as is at the discretion on the Sport Integrity Australia CEO or a delegate.
For anti-doping purposes, Registered and National Testing Pool athletes are required to formally give notice of their retirement:
- Registered Testing pool athletes must notify Sport Integrity Australia or, their International Federation if they are on their International Federation registered testing pool.
- National Testing pool athletes are only required to notify Sport Integrity Australia.
Retired athletes seeking a return to competition
Any former Registered or National Testing Pool athlete coming out of retirement must give six months written notice to make themselves available for anti-doping testing before competing in any International or National Event.
- Registered Testing Pool athletes must advise Sport Integrity Australia and the International Federation if they are on the International Federation’s registered testing pool.
- National Testing pool athletes are only required to notify Sport Integrity Australia.
As a general rule:
- National Event is an event or competition involving International or National Level Athletes that is not an International Event.
- International Event is an event or competition where the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, an International Federation, a Major Event Organisation or another international sporting organisation is the governing body.
If an athlete unknowingly competes in an International or National Event, their competitive results may not be disqualified if they can prove they could not have reasonably known the event was an International or National Event.
Before an athlete returns to participate and compete in International Events or National Events, athletes who retired from the Sport Integrity Australia or International Federation’s Registered Testing Pool need to make themselves available for testing by giving 6 months prior written notice to both Sport Integrity Australia and the International Federation. Those athletes who retired from Sport Integrity Australia’s National Testing Pool only need to notify Sport Integrity Australia.
The rules outlined in the Anti-Doping Policy apply to more than just athletes and support personnel. They can also apply to a category called ‘non-participants’, which can include board members, directors, officers, specified employees of the Sport and any member or affiliate organisation.
Sports should seek legal advice to determine if and how they can bind these individuals to their Anti-Doping Policy through their employment agreement.
As a minimum, where possible, Sport Integrity Australia suggests sports ensure that Board Members, CEO/Executives and Integrity and High Performance staff are bound to their anti-doping policy.
The category of ‘non-participants’ will not be subject to testing, and therefore the presence and testing related anti-doping rule violations will not apply. The anti-doping rule violation of possession will also not apply.
However, ‘non-participants’ can be subject to the anti-doping rule violations of: Tampering; Trafficking; Administration; Complicity; Prohibited Association and Retaliation.
‘Non-participants’ can be subject to an anti-doping investigation, that means, Sport Integrity Australia can use its powers to gather information from a ‘non-participant’ in relation to a potential violation.
Definition of ‘In-Competition’
Some substances and methods are banned at all times in sport, and others are only banned ‘In-Competition’. The 2021 Code changes how the ‘In-Competition’ period is defined.
From 1 January 2021, the ‘In-Competition’ period will begin at 11:59 pm the night before an athlete is scheduled to compete and finishes at the end of the sample collection period for that competition.
International Federations may apply to WADA for permission to change their ‘In-Competition’ period if they have compelling justification. Athletes should check with their International Federation to ensure that their ‘In-Competition’ period aligns with the 2021 Code.
This change is important for athletes to know as some prohibited substances are banned in competition only, while some are banned both in and out of competition.
Samples used for other purposes
Under the 2021 Code, samples collected for anti-doping purposes can also be used to enforce other rules of an International Federation or National Anti-Doping Organisation, such as Code of Conduct, Illicit Drugs or Medical and Safety policies.
Example: A sample that is initially collected for anti-doping purposes could also be used by an International Federation to test for illicit drugs in the enforcement of their other codes and policies.
However, athletes must be told if their sample is being used for purposes other than detecting prohibited substances under the anti-doping rules.
Sample re-analysis and research
There is no restriction on the number of times a sample can be re-analysed by Sport Integrity Australia, the World Anti-Doping Agency or another Anti-Doping Organisation within 10 years of its collection. However, once an athlete is notified of positive sample, re-analysis can only occur with the consent of the athlete or a hearing panel.
With the consent of the athlete, both samples and anti-doping information can be used for research to help improve anti-doping methods.
Currently, Sport Integrity Australia relies on the Registered Testing Pool and the Domestic Testing Pool to gather athlete Whereabouts information for the purpose of anti-doping testing.
However, under the 2021 Code, Sport Integrity Australia will establish a new Testing Pool, called the National Testing Pool to collect athlete Whereabouts information.
Athletes in the National Testing Pool will need to submit Whereabouts information through the World Anti-Doping Agency’s system called ADAMS. Athletes in this pool will be required to provide an overnight address and regular training activities – they will not be asked to provide a 60-minute daily testing window that athletes in the Registered Testing Pool are required to provide. They will not be subject to a Whereabouts Violation.
Athletes on the National Testing Pool that do not comply may be subject to written warnings and/or placement within the Registered Testing Pool.
Whereabouts requirements for Registered Testing Pool athletes remain unchanged. That is, if a Registered Testing Pool athlete does not comply with their whereabouts obligations, they may receive a whereabouts failure. Three failures in a 12-month period could result in a sanction from sport.
Responsibility for providing the whereabouts information for Domestic Testing Pool athletes lies with the sport.
A new anti-doping rule violation will come into effect on 1 January 2021 that makes it an offence to discourage or retaliate against someone for reporting information relating to doping activities (including information about non-compliance with the Code by an International Federation or Anti-Doping Organisation). This change is to protect athletes or any other individuals who speak up and call out doping related behaviour.
Example: If an administrator or coach excludes an athlete from training or competition because the athlete has reported doping information to Sport Integrity Australia, the administrator or coach may receive a sanction for breaching this new provision.
Changes to existing violations
This violation has been amended to include a reference to tampering during the Results Management process.
Example: Giving a false statement, evidence or documents.
Complicity and Attempted Complicity violation
The sanction for this violation now ranges from a 2-year ban to a lifetime ban.
Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation or attempted anti-doping rule violation by another person.
Refusal to submit
The sanction for this violation can now be reduced from a 4-year to a 2-year ban if the athlete can prove that the violation was not intentional and if the level of fault by the athlete warrants a reduction.
Prompt resolution of cases
There have been other changes to the Code that will help speed up the Results Management process.
Reducing a sanction for prompt admission to a violation
An athlete or other person facing a four-year ban can have their sanction reduced by one year if they admit to the violation and accept the sanction within 20 days of the violation notice.
Entering into a Case Resolution Agreement
A Case Resolution Agreement is an agreement between the athlete or other person and Sport Integrity Australia where the individual admits to a violation and agrees to the consequences. A sanction for an athlete or other person under a Case Resolution Agreement may be reduced on the basis of:
- the seriousness of the violation,
- the athlete or other person’s degree of fault, and
- how promptly the athlete or other person admits to the violation.
The final sanction in the agreement must be equal or more than half the original proposed sanction under the Code (i.e. if it’s a 4-year sanction under the Code, the Case Resolution Agreement reduced sanction cannot be less than 2 years).
Case Resolution Agreements cannot be appealed.
An athlete or other person who is considering entering into a Case Resolution Agreement is entitled to discuss making an admission under a ‘Without Prejudice Agreement’. This means that if agreement cannot be reached between the athlete and the Anti-Doping Organisation, the information gathered during the case resolution discussions cannot be used against the athlete or other person by the Anti-Doping Organisation in any Results Management proceedings under the Code.
Breaching a provisional suspension
A provisional suspension requires an athlete to stop training, participating and competing in sport until the athlete’s case has been determined by the relevant Anti-Doping organisation.
Athletes that have been provisionally suspended by their sport are not able to participate in any other sports with an anti-doping policy during this time. Participation would include, for example:
- practicing/training at a national, state or club level
- acting as a coach or sporting official
- selection in any representative team
- competing in any competition/events
- receiving, directly or indirectly, funding or assistance from a sport
- use of official sport or member facilities, or
- holding any position within a sporting organisation.
Any results earned whilst an athlete is provisionally suspended will be disqualified.
The Code change also makes clear that if an athlete breaches their provisional suspension, they are not eligible for credit towards their final sanction for the time that they were provisionally suspended.
Example: An athlete receives a provisional suspension when notified of a positive anti-doping test. The athlete has been provisionally suspended for 3 months and then decides to compete in a sporting event to see how fit they are, thereby breaching their provisional suspension. When the final decision is handed down, the athlete’s sanction commences from the date of the decision, rather than from the date the athlete was provisionally suspended.
If there are Aggravating Circumstances in an athlete’s case, then this may justify a longer ban from sport than a standard sanction (for example, a ban can be increased by up to 2 years, depending on the seriousness of the violation). Such Aggravating Circumstances could include:
- using or possessing multiple prohibited substances or methods,
- committing multiple anti-doping rule violations, and
- repeat offending.
Re-allocating forfeited prize money
Where an athlete wins prize money in a competition and is later found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation, the sport will be responsible for reallocating any recovered prize money to the athletes who would have been entitled to it, had the sanctioned athlete not competed.
Prohibited Association warning
Previously, an Anti-Doping Organisation was required to advise an athlete in writing of an athlete support person’s disqualification from sport and the potential consequence should the athlete continue to associate with them.
However, an Anti-Doping Organisation is no longer required to do this and is entitled to pursue a violation against an athlete for Prohibited Association. Under the 2021 Code, the burden will be on the athlete to establish that their association with the disqualified person was not in a sporting capacity, or that the contact could not have been reasonably avoided.
Example: If an athlete associates with a coach or a doctor that has been banned from sport for an anti-doping rule violation then the athlete may receive a sanction for Prohibited Association, unless the athlete can prove that their contact with the disqualified person was not sport-related or could not be avoided.
Making a violation public
At the end of every case, Sport Integrity Australia must make the case public, unless there are exceptional circumstances. The public announcement includes listing the individual, the substance involved, the sport and the length of the sanction given.
The 2021 Code has made some slight changes to the public disclosure.
Early announcement of a violation
The 2021 Code will allow for early public disclosure of a violation in some cases – that is, the matter can be made public before a final sanction is handed down.
The Code is prescriptive as to what information can be disclosed at this early stage of a case. The information includes the name of the athlete, the substance, the alleged violation and whether a provisional suspension is in place.
However, there may be occasions where Sport Integrity Australia does not permit the sport to do this, for example, where the publication of the information may prejudice an investigation.
Violation by a Protected Person
Public disclosure is not required when the violation has been committed by a minor or Protected Person. The World Anti-Doping Agency can also agree to not publicly disclose an anti-doping rule violation in exchange for a sanctioned person’s substantial assistance.
More rigorous standards to ensure fair hearings
This change to the Code strengthens the operational independence of a hearing panel by making it clear that those deciding anti-doping rule violation cases are not to have been involved in the investigation of the case or the decision to charge the athlete or other person.
In Australia, the hearings and appeals available to athletes and other persons for anti-doping matters is as follows:
Initial hearing for all athletes: National Sports Tribunal or Sport’s own Tribunal.
- International Level Athletes – Court of Arbitration for Sport.
- Everyone else – Appeals Division of the National Sports Tribunal, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
For more information about the above listed Tribunals and Courts please visit their websites.
Substances of abuse
‘Substances of Abuse’ is a new category of Prohibited Substances set out in the Prohibited List because they are known to be frequently abused outside of sport.
Substances in this category are Cocaine, Heroin, MDMA and Cannabis. These substances are banned from being used in an In-Competition environment only.
The new category allows Anti-Doping Organisations to apply flexibility in sanctioning for athletes who test positive to a Substance of Abuse.
Three-month sanction reduction
If an athlete tests positive to a substance of abuse (such as marijuana or cocaine), then the athlete’s ban from sport may be reduced to 3 months if the athlete is able to prove that the substance was used out-of-competition and that its use was unrelated to sporting performance.
One-month sanction reduction
The ban could be further reduced to one month if the athlete completes a Substance of Abuse treatment plan that is approved by the responsible Anti-Doping Organisation. The treatment plan adopted by Sport Integrity Australia includes the athlete being seen by a medical practitioner and the athlete completing a specific education program approved by Sport Integrity Australia. This treatment plan will be at the cost of the athlete.
A big change under the 2021 Code is the introduction of an International Standard for Education.
This Standard aims to harmonise education standards across the world when it comes to anti-doping. The main principle being that an athlete’s first experience with anti-doping should be through Education, and not through Testing.
The key changes for sports are that:
- every sport with an Anti-Doping Policy must establish an Education Pool
- every sport with an Anti-Doping Policy must have an Education Plan approved by Sport Integrity Australia.
The Education Pool is a list of high-priority groups of athletes and support personnel who require mandatory education. At a bare minimum, the Standard outlines that the Education Pool must include athletes in the Registered Testing Pool and athletes returning from sanction.
Sport Integrity Australia will be working with sports to ensure compliance with the International Standard for Education. If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021 Code changes webinar to sports
In October and November 2020, Sport Integrity Australia ran 2 webinars to inform sports of the key changes in the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and how these changes would be reflected in their anti-doping policies. The following video is a recording of one of those webinars.