Anti-Doping FAQs

What is WADA and what is the Anti-Doping Code?

What is WADA?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the international independent organization created in 1999 to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms.
WADA, which is composed and funded equally by the sports movement and governments of the world, coordinated the development, and subsequent evolution, of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code).

What is the World Anti-Doping Code?
The Code is the document that harmonizes regulations regarding anti-doping across all sports and all countries of the world. It provides the framework for anti-doping programs and activities for sport organizations and public authorities so that all athletes have the benefit of the same anti-doping policies and procedures, no matter the sport, the nationality or the country where tested.

How was the Code developed?
The Code was developed through an extensive consultation process among all stakeholders, including athletes, sports organizations, anti-doping organizations, laboratories, governments and many others. The Code was unanimously adopted by the Second World Conference on Doping in Sport in 2003, came into effect on January 1, 2004, and was fully implemented by Olympic Sport Federations in time for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. Revisions to the Code, following an 18-month consultation with stakeholders, were unanimously adopted by the Third World Conference on Doping in Sport in 2007, to be effective as of January 1, 2009.

What rules or procedures has the Code put in place?
The Code clarifies the responsibilities of stakeholders in the fight against doping and brings harmonization where rules or policies previously varied between different sports and countries. The Code operates in conjunction with five International Standards: List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (List); Testing; Therapeutic Use Exemptions; Laboratories; and Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.

Who's who in Anti-Doping?

In its role of promoting, coordinating and monitoring the international fight against doping, WADA is engaged in many key activities, including scientific and social science research, education, anti- doping capacity building and monitoring Code implementation.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) are responsible for the testing and results management process, including sanctioning those who commit anti-doping rule violations, at the Olympic and Paralympic Games respectively. Activities required of International Federations (IFs) by the Code include conducting testing at their respective competitions; having an out-of-competition testing program; implementing education programs; and sanctioning those who commit anti-doping rule violations according to the Code.

Government responsibilities in anti-doping include facilitating doping controls and supporting national testing programs; withholding financial support from those who engage in or support doping; taking measures against manufacturing and trafficking of illegal substances; and funding anti-doping education and research.

IOC and IPC rules require that National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), respectively, implement the Code. IF rules must include the requirement that National Federations (NFs) be Code-compliant.

National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) responsibilities include testing national athletes in- and out-of-competition, as well as athletes from other countries competing or training within that nation’s borders; adjudicating anti-doping rule violations; and anti-doping education. WADA is working with stakeholders in underserved regions of the world to facilitate the creation of Regional Anti-Doping Organizations (RADOs) responsible for enhancing anti-doping capacities in that region.

Laboratories that are able to analyze doping control samples under the Code must achieve and maintain accreditation from WADA, according to the criteria established in the International Standard for Laboratories and its related technical documents.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is often referred to as “sport’s supreme court.” It is an independent organization that facilitates the settlement of sport-related disputes, through arbitration or mediation, by means of procedural rules adapted to the specific needs of the sports world. WADA has a right of appeal to CAS for doping cases under the jurisdiction of organizations that have implemented the Code.

What is doping?

Doping is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following anti-doping rule violations:

1 - Presence of Prohibited Substance:
Presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample.

2 - Use of Prohibited Substance/Method:
Use or attempted use by an athlete of a prohibited substance or method.

3 - Refusing Sample Collection:
Refusing, or failing without compelling justification, to submit to sample collection after notification as authorized in applicable anti-doping rules, or otherwise evading sample collection.

4 - Failure to File Whereabouts & Missed Tests:
Violation of applicable requirements regarding athlete availability for out-of-competition testing, including failure to file required whereabouts information and missed tests (i.e., any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures within an 18-month period may be deemed a doping violation).

5 - Tampering:
Tampering or attempted tampering with any part of the doping control process.

6 - Possession:
Possession of a prohibited substance and prohibited method.

7 - Trafficking:
Trafficking or attempted trafficking in any prohibited substance or method.

8 - Administration:
Administration or attempted administration to an athlete of a prohibited substance and/or method; or assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up or any other type of complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation or any attempted anti-doping rule violation.

The Prohibited List

What substances and methods are banned?

The List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (List), updated annually by WADA, is the International Standard defining what is prohibited in- and out-of-competition. The List also indicates
whether particular substances are banned in particular sports. The most current edition of the List is posted on WADA’s Web site at:

What is the “strict liability” principle?

Athletes should know that, under the Code, they are strictly liable whenever a prohibited substance is found in their bodily specimen. This means that a violation occurs whether or not the athlete intentionally, knowingly or unknowingly, used a prohibited substance or was negligent or otherwise at fault. It is therefore very important for athletes to understand not only what is prohibited, but also what might potentially cause an inadvertent doping violation.

What else should athletes know about banned substances and methods?

Athletes should always check with their IF to find out what additional substances and methods are prohibited in their sport.

Also, athletes should always make their doctor aware that they are bound by the specific rules of their sport. Those who are unsure of what a product contains should not take it until they are sure it is not prohibited. Ignorance is never an excuse.

What should I know about using supplements?

Extreme caution is recommended regarding supplement use. It is WADA’s position that a good diet is of utmost importance to athletes. The use of dietary supplements by athletes is a concern because, in many countries, the manufacturing and labelling of products may not follow strict rules, which may lead to a supplement containing an undeclared substance that is prohibited under anti-doping regulations. A significant number of positive tests have been attributed to the misuse of supplements, and taking a poorly labelled dietary supplement is not an adequate defence in a doping hearing.

What about medical conditions?

Athletes, like all others, may at times experience a medical condition that requires them to use particular medicines. The substances that an athlete may be required to take to treat a condition could fall under the List. However, by applying and obtaining a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) from the IF or NADO, an athlete may be allowed to take the necessary medicine. Athletes who need to apply for a TUE should request more information about the TUE application process from their IF (for international-level athletes) or NADO (for national-level athletes).