Anti-doping - Governance, Code and Rules

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Knowledge Level: Beginner

The fight against doping is maintained through international and national governance structures led by a number of organisations both in the wider sporting environment and cycling specifically.

Global Anti-doping Governance

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the international independent organisation that governs anti-doping globally. WADA’s mission is to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms. WADA promotes its messages of clean sport through its slogan ‘Play True’.

WADA’s key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) – the document harmonising anti-doping regulations in all sports and all countries.

WADA’s website can be found here.

WADA does not operate an extensive doping control programme, generally National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) and International Federations (IF’s) carry out sample collection on its behalf. WADA can also operate a testing programme for countries with no NADO.

World Anti-doping Code

The Code is the core document that provides a framework for harmonised anti-doping policies, rules and regulations for sport organisations and NADOs. The Code works in conjunction with five International Standards that ensure a uniform approach to anti-doping around the world. This harmonisation works to address the problems that previously arose from disjointed and uncoordinated anti-doping efforts.

In the practical application of the Code, the goal is that all athletes and members of the ‘athlete entourage’ benefit from the same anti-doping procedures and protections, no matter the sport, the nationality, or the country where tested, so that athletes worldwide may participate in competition that is safe and fair.

You can find a copy of the 2015 Code here.

Fundamental to the Code is the principle of strict liability – a rider is solely responsible for any prohibited substance found in their system regardless of how or why it got there. This principle underpins anti-doping, and is one of the most important aspects for riders to understand.

The Code also outlines the Anti-doping Rule Violations, sanctions, results management, education programme aims and roles and responsibilities of athletes, support staff and organisations of the anti-doping community.

2015 Code Athlete Factsheet

The International Standards

The five International Standards are:

• Prohibited List

• International Standard for Testing and Investigation

• International Standard for Laboratories

• International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions

• International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.

The Prohibited List is an International Standard identifying the substances and methods that are prohibited, dividing them up into three groups: prohibited in-competition only, prohibited at all times and prohibited only in particular sports.

The International Standard for Testing guides anti-doping organisations in conducting effective testing, and stipulates the sample collection procedures that maintain the integrity and identity of samples, from notifying the athlete through to transporting samples for analysis.

The International Standard for Laboratories sets out the procedures a laboratory must follow when handling and analysing athletes’ samples to ensure test results are valid and reliable. These mandatory procedures achieve uniform results from all accredited laboratories, ensuring athletes’ samples are treated the same irrespective of which laboratory conducts their analysis. It also specifies the criteria that must be fulfilled by anti-doping laboratories to achieve and maintain WADA accreditation, which a laboratory must have in order to test doping control samples.

The purpose of the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions is to ensure that the process of granting Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) is harmonised across sports and countries, and that athletes are only granted exemptions to use a prohibited substance or method where it is medically necessary, when permitted alternatives do not exist and in circumstances where the athlete won’t gain any additional performance enhancement from use.

The International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information ensures that all relevant parties involved in anti-doping in sport adhere to a set of minimum privacy protections when collecting and using athletes’ personal information, such as information relating to whereabouts, medications or Anti-doping Rule Violations.

More information on each of the above can be found here.

NADO- National Anti-doping Organisation

A National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) governs anti-doping at a national level. A NADO possesses the primary authority and responsibility to conduct the national testing programme, review athlete applications for TUEs and develop education programmes. Some NADOs manage test results and conduct hearings, but others delegate these responsibilities to national governing bodies of sport. If no NADO has been designated by the competent public authority, the entity will be the country's National Olympic Committee or its designee. The NADO for the UK is UK Anti-doping. (UKAD).

UK Anti-Doping is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body that receives funding from, and is accountable to, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. UK Anti-Doping acts as the principal advisor to the UK Government on anti-doping.

As the NADO, UK Anti-Doping’s work is governed by the Code with which it operates in strict compliance.

UK Anti-Doping is led by its board, which meets every two months. The organisation has also established an Athlete Committee which it consults on various anti-doping issues (you can find more information on the Athlete Committee here).

UK Anti-Doping Rules

As the country’s NADO, UK Anti-Doping is responsible for upholding and implementing the requirements of the Code, which it does through the National Anti-Doping Policy. Further to the Policy, UK Anti-Doping drafted the UK Anti-Doping Rules, making the Code specific to UK NGBs. The UK Anti-Doping Rules are Code compliant, but are aimed at the needs of NGBs and cover areas such as ADRVs, testing jurisdiction, results management procedures, hearings and appeals and the sanctions for both individuals and teams.

The UK Anti-Doping Rules 2015 can be found here.


The UCI is the international federation for cycling and governs cycling throughout the world. The UCI has its own anti-doping rules which essentially reflect those of the WADA Code. The UCI coordinate testing at international events and may prosecute offenders where applicable. The UCI are required by the Code to conduct a number of anti-doping activities including: conducting testing at their competitions as well as out-of-competition; reviewing Therapeutic Use Exemption applications; providing education programmes; and sanctioning those who commit Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs).

British Cycling

British Cycling (BC) is the national federation for cycling in Great Britain. BC adopts the UK Anti-doping Rules as detailed in the BC Handbook. All BC members sign a code of conduct which governs their behaviour in cycling. Part of this states that they will not engage in doping related activity. All British Cycling race licence holders agree to adhere to the Anti-Doping Rules. Part of this means they agree to being tested at any time in any location both in and out of competition. Depending on the level of an event or the location riders may ride under the rules of the UCI or other applicable NADO.

Key message:

For the majority race licence holders, UKAD and British Cycling are the main agencies they need to be aware of and use for support, education etc. they will ride under the UK Anti-doping Rules when competing in the UK. Race licence holders must be aware that they may be requested to submit to doping control; anytime, anywhere.


As a British Cycling race licence holder you can potentially be tested at anytime and anywhere and you should not refuse to submit to testing for any reason.

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