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

18 December 2014

This is the second in a series of blogs we are publishing to help explain the main changes to the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) that comes into force on 1 January 2015.

In our first blog we wrote about:

  • 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.

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

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

Focus on intelligence and investigations

Many high-profile successes in the fight against doping have been based largely on evidence obtained either by Anti-Doping Organisations or the civil authorities through an investigations process.

There was a strong consensus among the stakeholders that the role of investigations in the fight against doping should be highlighted in the Code and that cooperation of governments and all stakeholders in investigations of possible anti-doping rule violations is important.

In accordance with the International Standard for Testing and Investigations, Anti-Doping Organisations shall ensure they are able to:

  • obtain, assess and process anti-doping intelligence from all available sources to inform the development of an effective, intelligent and proportionate test distribution plan, to plan target testing, and/or to form the basis of an investigation into a possible doping violation
  • investigate Atypical Findings and Adverse Passport Findings, in accordance with Articles 7.4 and 7.5 of the 2015 Code
  • investigate any other analytical or non-analytical information or intelligence that indicates a possible doping violation, in accordance with Articles 7.6 and 7.7, in order either to rule out the possible violation or to develop evidence that would support the initiation of a doping violation proceeding.

The roles and responsibilities of International Federations, National Olympic Committees, athletes, and athlete support personnel have been expanded to require cooperation with anti-doping organisations investigating anti-doping rule violations.

The expectations of signatories (including Australia) with respect to governments have been expanded to include governments putting in place legislation, regulation, policies or administrative practices for cooperation in sharing of information with anti-doping organisations.

Statutory limitation period

Currently, action on a possible doping violation must be commenced within eight years from the date the violation is asserted to have occurred. From 1 January 2015, authorities will have up to ten years within which to commence action.

This change improves the scope to uncover sophisticated doping programmes and provides greater scope for the retrospective analysis of stored samples as new technologies to identify prohibited substances are developed.

The potential that stored samples will be subject to further analysis should serve as a powerful deterrent if an athlete should for any reason be considering doping.

Whereabouts change

The window in which an athlete may accumulate three Whereabouts transgressions (filing failures or missed tests) which trigger an anti-doping rule violation has been reduced from 18 months to 12 months.


Education is crucial to the fight against doping. The revised Code puts a strong emphasis on educational programmes to focus on prevention.

International Federations are required to promote anti-doping education and direct National Federations to conduct anti-doping education in coordination with the applicable National Anti-Doping Organisation.

All Code signatories, including Australia, must provide mandatory education to athletes and athlete support personnel about:

  • substances and methods on the Prohibited List
  • anti-doping rule violations
  • consequences of doping, including sanctions, health and social consequences
  • doping control procedures
  • athletes’ and athlete support personnel’s rights and responsibilities
  • Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)
  • managing the risks of nutritional supplements
  • harm of doping to the spirit of sport
  • applicable whereabouts requirements.

Athletes’ reference guide to the Code

WADA has published a reference guide to the 2015 Code for athletes. The guide explains athletes’ roles and responsibilities, details of what constitutes an anti-doping rule violation, information on the Prohibited List and supplements, and offers details on matters ranging from the ‘Whereabouts’ rule to Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), amongst other topics.

In the last of our blogs about the main changes to the Code we’ll look at:

  • the increased focus on athlete support personnel
  • prohibited association and support personnel
  • support personnel and prohibited substances.

Read our third blog on Code changes.