Blog: 2015 World Anti-Doping Code – What does the revised Code mean for you? (Part one)

16 December 2014

Over the next week we will be publishing a series of blogs about key changes to the revised World Anti-Doping Code (the Code). These changes come into force on 1 January and will directly affect athletes and support people.

In this blog we’ll take a look at the:

  • new anti-doping rule violations
  • changes to the length of sanctions
  • flexibility in sanctions
  • changes to substantial assistance
  • rules on banned athletes returning to training.

Before we begin, it may be useful to quickly explain what the Code is for those unfamiliar with this document. First adopted in 2004, the Code is the document that harmonises regulations regarding anti-doping across all sports and all countries of the world. The Code provides a framework for anti-doping policies, rules, and regulations for sporting organisations and public authorities.

The introduction of the Code has helped address problems that previously arose from disjointed and uncoordinated anti-doping efforts, including, among others:

  • a scarcity and splintering of resources required to conduct research and testing
  • lack of knowledge about specific substances and procedures being used and to what degree
  • an inconsistent approach to sanctions for those athletes found to have cheated through doping.

On 15 November 2013, the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board endorsed the third adaptation of the Code at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg.

Let’s have a look at some of the major changes to the Code:

Two new anti-doping rule violations

For the 2015 Code, the number of anti-doping rule violations has increased from eight to ten. The two new violations are:


Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation, attempted anti-doping rule violation or violation of Article 10.12.1 (prohibition against participation during ineligibility) by another person.

This violation has added a new word from the 2009 Code; ‘conspiring’. This is to capture the role support personnel can play in deliberate doping situations.

Prohibited Association

There have been several high-profile examples where athletes have continued to work with coaches who have been banned or with other individuals who have been criminally convicted for providing performance enhancing drugs.

A new feature of the Code taking effect at the start of 2015 makes it an anti-doping rule violation for athletes or other persons to associate with this sort of ‘athlete support person’ once they have been specifically warned not to engage in that association.

Athletes and other persons must not work with coaches, trainers, doctors or others who are ineligible because of an anti-doping rule violation or who have been criminally convicted or professionally disciplined in relation to doping.

Some examples of this type of prohibited association include obtaining training, strategy, nutrition or medical advice, therapy, treatment or prescriptions. Moreover, the ‘athlete support person’ may not serve as an agent or representative.

This provision does not apply in circumstances where the association is not in a professional or sport-related capacity. For example, a parent-child or husband-wife relationship.

Doping bans doubled

During the development of the 2015 Code, there was a strong consensus among stakeholders, and in particular athletes, that those who engaged in intentional doping should be ineligible for a period of four years.

For Presence, Use or Possession of a Non-Specified Substance, the ban is four years, unless the athlete can establish that the violation was not intentional.

For Specified Substances, the ban is four years, where the anti-doping organisation can prove that the violation was intentional.

Flexibility in sanctioning in specific circumstances

Where the athlete can establish no significant fault for an adverse analytical finding involving a contaminated product, the period of ineligibility may range from at a minimum a reprimand and at a maximum, two years.

For the period of ineligibility involving a Specified Substance to be reduced below two years, the athlete must now establish no significant fault.

Changes to Substantial Assistance

The reduction of sanctions for Substantial Assistance has been amended in the 2015 Code to allow WADA to give assurance to an athlete, or other person, willing to provide substantial assistance that:

  • the agreed-upon reduction in the period of ineligibility cannot be challenged on appeal
  • in appropriate circumstances, the disclosure of the substantial assistance may be limited or delayed
  • in exceptional circumstances, WADA may approve a substantial assistance agreement that provides for no period of ineligibility.

Banned athletes returning to training

Under the 2015 Code, athletes will be allowed to return to train with his or her team or use the facilities of a club during the last two months or last quarter of their period of ineligibility; whichever is shorter.

In the next blog we’ll look at:

  • the focus on intelligence and investigations in the revised Code
  • change to the statutory limitation period
  • amendment to whereabouts
  • the enhanced role of education.

Read our second blog on Code changes.

Read our third blog on Code changes.