Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) Investigations & Proceedings

Australian sports have been compromised due to some athletes’ use of banned substances to help them maintain their energy and enhance their performance. Tests are conducted to prove such allegations, which is commonly known as doping.

Who monitors sports doping?

To address the growing doping issue in sports, the Australian government has established the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) in 2006. It implements the Anti-Doping Program and Code in the country and works towards the protection of the athletes’ health and the sports’ integrity.

Australia is the first country to form a committee that focuses on the investigation of possible doping violations. Primarily, ASADA is responsible for:

  • creating and delivering a range of education materials and output that will help raise awareness about doping in sports
  • helping and coaching the sporting community in meeting their anti-doping responsibilities
  • monitoring the sports community in their compliance with the anti-doping policies
  • detecting and deterring anti-doping rule violations
  • managing potential anti-doping rule violations

ASADA aims not only to maintain the integrity of sports but also to protect the athletes’ health by raising awareness on the effects of taking energy and performance-enhancing drugs.

What substances and methods are prohibited?

A substance or method becomes prohibited if it meets the following conditions:

  • The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) considers the method or substance as something that violates the spirit of the sport.
  • The method or substance poses a potential risk on the health of the athlete.
  • The method or substance enhances or has the potential to enhance the athlete’s performance.

Although the ASADA names the specific substances and methods that are prohibited, there are some that are not included in the committee’s list, but which exhibit the same biological effects and chemical structure as those that are prohibited.

Many new or modified substances are developed every year and are made available in the market or black market. There are also some people who engage in experimental methods or take experimental substances that may not have undergone clinical testing or may have not been approved for human use.

In these cases, ASADA consults with stakeholders from various fields and thoroughly examines the methods or products in question before forming a view on its status.
The following can serve as references to help athletes determine whether a substance or method is prohibited:

The Prohibited List

Every year, the WADA prepares, updates, and publishes the Prohibited List, which serves as the international standard for the methods and substances that are prohibited in sport. It is based on consultations with experts and the agency’s many stakeholders.

Global DRO

For new or suspicious substances not listed in the Prohibited List, athletes can search for them on the Global DRO.  The athlete must keep the reference number as proof of the search prior to use of the substance or medication. This may help them in the event they are called upon for the said information in the future.

It should be noted, though, that the Global DRO includes only the brand names of products sold in Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, or Australia. In this regard, athletes should be careful when using substances in other countries. Even if the said medications have the same names and logos as those in Australia, they may contain substances that are prohibited in sports.

GW501516

Athletes must be wary of the GW501516 substance, which may still be available in the black market. It was a developmental drug withdrawn from research and terminated due to the serious toxicities it contained.

Pseudoephedrine

This substance is prohibited at a dosage of more than 150 micrograms per milliliter. Athletes are also prohibited from taking it during or 24 hours before a competition.

Athletes who need medications whilst in-competition must consider using alternative permitted medications that are physician-approved; otherwise, they may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

What are the anti-doping rule violations?

  • The presence of a prohibited drug’s markers or metabolites in an athlete’s blood sample
  • Evasion of sample collection or refusal/failure to submit to sample collection without sufficient justification after receipt of authorised notification
  • Use or attempted use of a prohibited method or substance
  • Interference or attempted interference in the drug testing process
  • Failure to comply to the applicable requirements with regards to the athlete’s availability for drug testing out of competition
  • Trafficking or attempted trafficking of any prohibited method or substance
  • Possession of prohibited methods or substances
  • Administration or attempted administration of prohibited methods or substances to any athlete, whether in or out of competition
  • Sport-related or professional association with a person who has made an Anti-Doping Rule Violation and is undergoing a professional or disciplinary proceeding; is convicted; or is serving a period of Anti-Doping violation
  • Covering up, conspiring, abetting, aiding, encouraging, and assisting, or other forms of internal complicity involved in another person’s violation or attempted violation of the Anti-Doping Rule

In the end, an athlete is responsible for any substance found in their body, regardless of how it got there. Whether intentional or unintentional, the presence of a prohibited substance may lead to an anti-doping rule violation.

Sanctions for violations include warnings, suspensions, or lifetime bans.

ASADA investigation procedures

To maintain clean competition among athletes, ASADA investigates the people involved in sports doping allegations and conducts various drug tests to make sure that athletes are not using banned substances. Their website allows anyone to submit their testimony if they have witnessed a doping violation. From there, the Authority will contact them and ask them for documents that serve as proof of what they have witnessed. These include pictures, video footages, and the like.

Length of procedure

The investigation process may take a long time since all the information and evidences are examined and gathered thoroughly. It may also take a longer time due to the following reasons:

  • The investigators do not get adequate assistance from the people involved
  • Misinformation pervades the public domain
  • The Information provided by different sources lead to more inquiries

Because doping is a serious allegation that can affect the career and reputation of an athlete and their support staff, ASADA conducts the investigation as accurately and thoroughly as possible. In addition, the law ensures protection of the athlete’s or support person’s privacy whilst the investigation is underway.

Once an investigation is completed, ASADA will assess the evidence, and an independent Anti-Doping Rule Violations Panel (ADRVP) will also review the available data and evidences. After that, a hearing will take place, which will be conducted by a Sports Tribunal and/or the Court of Arbitration for Sports. In this case, the people involved can either attend or choose not to attend the hearing. They may also appeal to the decision-making bodies. The ultimate goal of the investigation is to prove that Australian sport is free of doping and to protect the athletes’ health and welfare.

FC Lawyers has extensive experience in helping athletes deal with allegations on anti-doping rule violations. Contact us for to discuss your legal matters.

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