Athletes who are required to abide by the WADA Code may be subject to out-of-competition testing, as well as in-competition-testing. While all athletes can be tested anytime and anywhere, a select number of Australian athletes may also be required by either the anti-doping organisation ASADA or their own sport’s International Federation (IF) to provide ongoing details about their location so that they can be located by ASADA without notice and tested outside competition. An athlete who has been selected in this way must provide accurate and current information regarding their whereabouts and must also be available for unannounced testing at their specified location on any given day, or otherwise risk an anti-doping rule violation.
Athletes who are required by ASADA or their IF to provide their whereabouts information are added to a pool of names (otherwise known as the Registered Testing Pool (RTP)). If an athlete is to be included in the RTP, the athlete will be informed in writing of their inclusion to the RTP and will be given information on how to comply with RTP procedures.
An athlete in the RTP is required to specify for a period of three months in advance, a one-hour period in every single day between 5 am and 11 pm when they will be available for testing. The athlete must advise where they will be for this hour and must make sure that they are in fact at this specified location at the specified time. The athlete must include such information as:
- their address and contact details;
- if they have a disability that may affect testing;
- location details for where they will be staying for each day in the 3-month period;
- location details for where they will be training, working or doing any other regular activity for each day in the quarter;
- the usual times that these activities would take place; and
- location details for any events they are competing in.
If an athlete’s plans change, their whereabouts information can be updated by using the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Administration and Management System (ADAMS). ADAMS is an online tool that makes it easier for athletes or their nominated representative to enter, view and change their whereabouts information. In team sports, whereabouts information can also be submitted by team officials on a collective basis as part of the team’s activities.
Australian athletes can update their whereabouts information at any time before their nominated hour by using the ADAMS system or by emailing or calling ASADA directly to notify it of the changes.
It is important to note that although athletes are able to nominate an authorised representative to upload their whereabouts information, all athletes who are in the RTP are ultimately responsible for their own whereabouts. As a result, they cannot avoid responsibility by blaming their representative or the team for filing inaccurate information about their whereabouts or for not updating their whereabouts if they were not at the location specified by them during the specified 60-minute time-slot. Holidays, an injury or the off-season are not valid excuses for inaccurate whereabouts. Neither are ADAMS system issues, unless you have proof (always take screen shots).
What if an athlete is not available for testing at their specified location during their specified hour?
Failure to be available for testing at the specified location at the nominated time is treated the same as though the athlete missed the test. A missed test may lead to an anti-doping rule violation and a sanction to the athlete. Knowingly providing ASADA with false information in a whereabouts filing may also lead to an anti-doping rule violation and sanction.
Under WADA’s anti-doping rules, any combination of 3 whereabouts failures (Filing Failure and/or Missed Test) within a period of 12 months constitutes an anti-doping rule violation, for which the applicable sanction is 2 years' ineligibility subject to a reduction to a minimum of 1 year depending on the athletes’ degree of fault.
Whereabouts failures are systematically and strictly enforced by ASADA. Athletes’ compliance with any whereabouts requirements is crucial and ASADA expects that all Australian Athletes who are required to do so, do so completely so as to avoid whereabouts failures.
Although in reality only a small number of Australian athletes will be in the RTP, all athletes can be tested at any time and anywhere. The added consequence for an RTP athlete being that a missed test may be recorded if they are unavailable during the specified one-hour window at their specified location.
A sports club may also be sanctioned for failing to provide up to date information on player movement under their sport’s own governing rules. This occurs in the AFL where clubs are fined for failing to provide adequate whereabouts information. Richmond and the Western Bulldogs were fined by the league following the 2017 season for failing to provide adequate whereabouts details and in 2016, 7 clubs were fined by the AFL for similar breaches of the AFL rules.
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Nothing in this article should be relied on as legal advice. The contents of this article should be regarded as information only, and for specific legal matters, independent advice should always be sought. Please contact Paul Horvath on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03-9642-0435 to discuss any matter or to arrange an appointment.