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UK Coaching Team
Safety and Welfare

Helping Coaches Understand Anti-Doping

Anti-doping expert Laurie Patterson introduces the 11 Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) that affect athletes, coaches and support staff

To make sure that everyone can take part in sport in a safe, healthy and honest way, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) established the World Anti-Doping Code. This creates a clean, fair and open environment for athletes, coaches and support staff. 

There are several acts that are considered ‘doping’ and these are captured in 11 anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs).

Of these, you may be familiar with:

#1 Presence of a banned substance in a sample (which is essentially a positive test), and

#2 Use of a banned substance or method (which is when there is evidence someone used something banned, without testing positive).

Beyond this, we have some procedural issues focussed around drugs testing – which is typically referred to as ‘doping control’. They are:

#3 Refusal to give a sample (e.g., not answering the door when the Doping Control Officers visit).

#4 Failure to give accurate whereabouts on time (‘Whereabouts’ relates to an athlete reporting their location for one hour per day for every day of the year, which they have to do quarterly if they are entered into a ‘Registered Testing Pool’), and

#5 Tampering with any part of doping control (e.g., trying to pass off someone else’s urine as their own or using ‘Doppelgangers’).

The next set of violations involve handling banned substances and methods in some way. They are hopefully somewhat self-explanatory based on their use of the terms.

#6 ‘Possession’

#7 ‘Trafficking’, and 

#8 ‘Administration’. But, in simple terms, you should not have, move or use (on others) doping substances or methods.

Lastly, we have a group of violations that are about your interactions with others.

#9 Complicity is equivalent to aiding, abetting or covering up an anti-doping rule violation.

#10 Prohibited Association makes it an anti-doping rule violation for an athlete or other person to associate in a professional or sport-related capacity with athlete support personnel (ASP) who are currently ineligible (i.e., serving some form of ban or sanction or who have been convicted in a criminal, disciplinary or professional way). Importantly, an athlete must be aware of the sanction though, in order to be in trouble themselves. And, the violation doesn’t apply in circumstances where the relationship is unavoidable – such as when the ASP is their parent or partner.

#11 From January 2021, there is a new violation: any action by an athlete or other person to discourage or retaliate against anyone reporting to the authorities (Governing Body or UKAD). For instance, if an athlete or athlete support personnel were to go to the authorities with information about suspected wrongdoing, and somebody then ‘acted out’ against them, the person committing the act would be reprimanded.

Download the 11 Anti-Doping Rule Violations below...

Did you know...

That an ADRV can be established without an anti-doping organisation or sporting body having to demonstrate intent, fault or negligence. Many ADRVs do not involve individuals who are deliberately trying to gain an unfair advantage over others; some involve the use of recreational drugs or mistakenly ingesting a prohibited substance via medication or nutritional supplements. 

What are the consequences?

Violating the anti-doping rules can have many and varied consequences. From a legal perspective there are bans; these are four years as standard but can be longer if the offence committed is particularly serious or is recurring. Surprisingly, a ban from sport is unlikely to be the most severe consequence of doping!

It has been found that the financial consequences are significant, as doping can lead to fines, terminated contract/job loss, loss of sponsorship and prize money. This may mean that an athlete loses their livelihood.

In addition, there are often devastating social consequences, as athletes who have been found to dope are regularly cast out of their sport and can experience a negative response from their family, friends and community.

Beyond all of this, doping can have an incredibly negative impact on an athlete’s mental health and well-being. They can be left with feelings of guilt, shame and even a significant sense of loss.

Which anti-doping rules apply to coaches?

Let’s consider why it is important for you, as a coach, to be familiar with anti-doping rules. 

The World Anti-Doping Code specifically identifies you as having a role to play in anti-doping efforts. You are one of several groups who are considered to be ‘athlete support personnel’. Athlete Support Personnel refers to any individuals working with, treating or assisting an athlete participating in or preparing for sport. So, along with coaches, it can include team managers, medical professionals and parents.

As a key member of athlete support personnel, the anti-doping rules apply to you, meaning you could be banned from sport (and unable to do your job!) if you engaged in behaviours that were considered a ‘violation’. 


Can you identify the seven ADRVs that apply to you, as a coach?

Have a think, and then check your answers below.

  1. Tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control by an athlete or other person.
  2. Possession of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method by an athlete or athlete support person.
  3. Trafficking or attempted trafficking in any prohibited substance or prohibited method by an athlete or other person.
  4. Administration or attempted administration by an athlete or other person to any athlete in competition of any prohibited substance or prohibited method, or administration or attempted administration to any athlete out-of-competition of any prohibited substance or any prohibited method that is prohibited out of competition.
  5. Complicity or attempted complicity by an athlete or other person. 


  1. Prohibited association by an athlete or other person.
  2. Acts by an athlete or other person to discourage or retaliate against reporting to authorities.

In addition to the violations and sanctions being relevant to ASP, the World Anti-Doping Code (Article 21) specifies that ASP have the following roles and responsibilities:

  • To be knowledgeable of and comply with all anti-doping policies and rules within the Code.
  • To cooperate with the Athlete Testing programme.
  • To use their influence on athlete values and behaviour to foster anti-doping attitudes.
  • To inform sporting and anti-doping organisations of any involvement in doping behaviours within sports that are not signatories of the Code.
  • Co-operate with doping-related investigation, and
  • Not engage in personal use of banned substances.


Collectively these responsibilities can be summarised as being supportive of anti-doping efforts. While many of the responsibilities might seem straightforward, e.g., not using substances yourself and cooperating with processes, it can be harder to know what you need to know about anti-doping and how to make a difference to your athletes’ lives

This is something we hope to help you with through this Coaches and Clean Sport series.

Time2Learn: Coaches and Clean Sport

Join Dr Laurie Patterson for our latest Time2Learn webinar on Friday 5 February that will encourage you to consider your role in promoting clean sport.

More information

Related Resources

  • Five Important Messages About Anti-Doping in Five Minutes

  • Checking Medications is as Easy as A, B, C

  • Assessing the Need, Assessing the Risk when Using Dietary Supplements


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