As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has continued to evolve into a health and societal emergency that requires effective action from all of us, around the world. , to minimize the probability of transmission and the impact on society. The situation obviously does not only affect the world of sport and the fight against doping. Most countries have strict measures in place, which include, among other things, border closures, quarantine / self-isolation, flight cancellations and movement restrictions.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as the global regulatory body responsible for the fight against doping, and the anti-doping community prioritize public health, safety and social responsibility. The community has come together to adapt its daily operations, in particular by reducing control activities. We are aware that these necessary measures may affect the confidence of some athletes in the holding of competitions as clean as possible after this crisis.
WADA also recognizes how difficult it has been and can continue to be for you, the athlete, at this time when you have to contend with measures put in place around the world that are disrupting your training programs. and generate uncertainty about your future competitions.
The question-and-answer document below, which WADA created in consultation with its Sports Committee, aims to answer some of the questions you may have about this rapidly changing situation. This is the second version of this document, which was first published by WADA the 23 mars 2020 and that we have updated to take into account that an increasing number of Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) have now resumed a normal testing program. As more countries gradually emerge from lockdown, this Q&A document will continue to be updated to provide the latest information to athletes on how testing programs are evolving to incorporate health precautions. in order to protect both clean sport and the health of Athletes and Sample collection personnel.
WADA has provided detailed guidance to ADOs to ensure that they perform their checks in a safe manner while following the guidelines of local public health authorities. You can consult the document Guidelines for ADOs of March 20, 2020 and the updated document Guidelines for ADOs for resumption of checks on May 6, 2020. If you would like to know more about the specific actions your International Federation (IF) or National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) is taking in the current context, please contact them directly, as appropriate.
As the situation evolves, we want to assure you that WADA and the anti-doping community will continue to meet the challenges of this pandemic by placing your health and that of all partners in the clean sport community at the forefront of their agenda. concerns.
Sincerely, and stay healthy. World Anti-Doping Agency
Can I still be controlled during the COVID-19 pandemic despite all the restrictions in place, especially with regards to social distancing and self-isolation?
Athletes can be checked anytime and anywhere. If no restrictions on mobility or physical contact have been put in place by local authorities or if containment measures have been lifted, checks can take place anywhere and anytime.
If I am tested, what measures will be put in place to reduce the risk of infection?
ADOs must put in place reinforced measures, compatible with the recommendations of the health authorities, to protect your health and that of the staff taking the samples. More information can be found in the document Guidelines for WADA ADOs, published March 20. In countries and regions where containment measures are beginning to be lifted, athletes can expect checks to increase alongside these measures. For these situations, WADA has issued further guidance to ADOs to protect the health of Athletes and Sample collection personnel, as well as public health in general. These guidelines include measures such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), assessment of the athlete's health and a situational health analysis prior to the start of testing. Further information can be found in the Instructions for ADOs to re-test May 6, 2020.
What specific actions will ADOs take to reduce the risk of transmission?
ADOs have been advised that when they return to their usual screening activities, those responsible for specimen collection should wash their hands regularly, disinfect them or put on new gloves upon arrival at the screening location. Athletes and Sample collection personnel should also, whenever possible, maintain the physical distance recommended by public health authorities (1-2 meters) between themselves. In accordance with the recently updated guidelines for ADOs, WADA encouraged ADOs to communicate to Athletes the specific actions they are taking to comply with enhanced precautionary measures and to collect information from Athletes about their health prior to start of control.
Can I expect changes in screening procedures?
Existing International Standards insist both on the integrity of the process and on the safety of all involved, but you may notice a strengthening of safety measures aimed at a balance between the protection of clean competitions and the health personal. Thus, WADA's most recent guidelines to ADOs recommend ADOs to deploy a “prior notice” process which may include self-declaration about your state of health or the risks you may be facing in the process. related to COVID-19, as well as information on additional health and safety precautions that will be taken by sample collection personnel.
In addition, WADA decided to establish a working group on strategic controls. This group will look at what has worked well and the challenges in doping control during this unprecedented time, to learn from this situation and see how this experience could further strengthen the anti-doping system.
What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?
Your first concern is your health and the health of those around you. If you are concerned that you have contracted the virus, the priority is to isolate yourself and follow the other precautions (washing your hands, wearing a mask, etc.) recommended by international health organizations. You should also contact your local health authorities to make sure you are following the appropriate procedures in your area, including when and where to get tested and treated. As part of the fight against doping, you should report your situation to your ADO when submitting your whereabouts information or when Sample collection personnel advise you that you need to be tested, in order for them to adapt his plans accordingly.
Do I still have to apply for a Therapeutic Use Authorization (TUE) if I have a health problem that requires the use of a prohibited substance or method?
As long as you can be checked, you must ensure that you have a valid TUE. If you have difficulty seeing a doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic to obtain the necessary documentation to support your TUE application, you should document all the steps taken to meet the relevant requirements and any obstacles encountered. Files are examined on a case-by-case basis. The International Standard for Authorization of Therapeutic Use contains provisions which allow an athlete to request a retroactive TUE in urgent or exceptional situations.
Do I still have to submit my whereabouts information?
As long as you can be checked, you must continue to provide your location information. If you wish to transmit information that may have an effect on doping control (on your health, self-isolation, restrictions on mobility that affect you, etc.), please do so at the same time as you submit the information. information about your location.
Can I refuse a test if I submit to self-isolation, quarantine, or if I feel that adequate precautions are not being taken by Sample collection personnel?
In countries where containment measures are still in place, ADOs are encouraged to carry out checks in the most appropriate cases and using judgment. Therefore, such a situation is unlikely. Unless there is compulsory isolation or confinement in your country, it is important that you submit to controls while observing the preventive measures put in place by your ADO, which should be proportional to the risks involved. If you refuse to submit to testing or do not complete the Sample collection process, or if you are unable (or unwilling) to provide a Sample due to an alleged lack of safeguards, your refusal will be subject to the usual results management process, which could result in a suspension period of up to four years. If you are relying on the help of a representative to guide you through the doping control process (especially minors and disabled athletes) and no representative can help you due to the repercussions of COVID-19 , this will also be taken into account during the results management process.
How can I be confident that my next competitions will take place in a doping-free environment?
WADA is closely monitoring instances where there has been a reduction in controls and is in close communication with ADOs to work with them to find the best ways to be effective during this time. When the sporting world returns to a certain normal, these "deviations" in testing will be addressed through additional targeted testing as intelligence gathering and investigations continue.
Putting public health above the needs of the anti-doping system means that there could be repercussions on the fight against doping in sport. However, much less training and competition is taking place right now. It is also important to remind athletes that the samples collected continue to be kept for future analysis and that, thanks to the Athlete's Biological Passport, samples taken after the COVID-19 crisis could reveal that there was doping during this period. Finally, you can contribute to anti-doping efforts by viewing the most recent information and educational resources available to you, and by inviting your teammates and peers to do the same. You can consult WADA's anti-doping educational resources by visiting the Agency's e-learning platform, Adel.