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Introduction to Testing

Sport only works when those on the field of play compete fairly, in line with the rules, while behaving in a way that makes us proud to watch.

To help keep order, officials such as referees or umpires score competitions or performances to make sure that the spirit of competition is maintained.

In anti-doping, testing can have a deterrent effect on those who may be vulnerable to doping decisions – and, when people chose to cheat, testing can detect that.

Testing is one of the essential components protecting clean sport.

The facts - what you need to know about testing

  • Who can be tested and when? Athletes can be tested any time, any place. Organisations that have the authority to conduct testing are: National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) such as UK Anti-Doping, International Federations (IFs), or Major Event Organisers (MEO) such as the Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • What types of test are there? There are currently two types of anti-doping test: urine and blood. Once a sample is collected it is sent to a WADA accredited laboratory to be analysed. They never know whose sample they have, as it is anonymous.
  • What happens in a Test? The main stages of the testing process are as follows:
    • Notification of selection for a drugs test
    • Reporting for testing
    • Selecting a collection vessel
    • Providing the sample under supervision
    • Selecting the sampling kit
    • Dividing and sealing the sample
    • Testing the suitability of the sample
    • Recording and certifying the information
  • Who does the test? Trained and authorised Doping Control Officers (DCO) conduct testing. Sometimes athletes are notified by what’s known as a Chaperone, who can also observe sample provision too. They always have to show identification when they notify athletes, and then they will make sure you are accompanied at all times until the process is finished. A Blood Collection Officer (BCO) is a trained and experienced phlebotomist, who carries out blood tests.

What that means for you

All athletes should familiarise themselves with the testing process.

UKAD, working with National Governing Bodies, aims to ensure that athletes are always educated and informed prior to being tested, but sometimes that is not possible.

Remember the DCOs are there to assist and can help explain the process to you, plus you can take a representative such as parent or a coach with you.

And don’t forget, refusing a test carries a four-year ban - so get prepared now.

What you should do

  1. Watch the videos on the testing process
  2. Ask other athletes you know who have been tested about the process
  3. Learn more about your rights and responsibilities during the testing process
  4. Remember: you can take someone with you, a representative, if you are ever notified for testing

Where to go for further advice

Why don’t you check out our section on the Testing Process which goes into more detail on exactly what happens in a test, including what happens at international events and modifications that are made for minors and athletes with an impairment.

See the quarterly reports on our testing programme here