Anti-Doping Testing & Ramadan
Ramadan, the holy month of fasting within Islam, is expected to begin on 23 March, following the first sighting of the crescent moon, and lasts until 21 April. It is a time for deep spiritual reflection and collective rituals for Muslims worldwide. During Ramadan, Muslim adults fast between sunrise and sunset unless exempt. In the UK this can mean 16 hours without food or drink.
For Muslim athletes there are additional considerations during Ramadan. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the national body responsible for protecting clean sport across the UK. UKAD’s remit includes testing athletes to ensure they are competing fairly, in line with internationally agreed regulations and rules.
How does the Testing Process work during Ramadan?
UKAD operates a risk-based intelligence-led testing programme across more than 40 sports in accordance with the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI), which is part of the World Anti-Doping Programme. Athletes can be tested at any time, any place, with no advance notice. That means that a Muslim athlete may be approached by UKAD to take a urine and/or blood sample during Ramadan.
UKAD understands that during a period of fasting, an athlete’s hydration levels may be affected. This may result in the sample collection process taking longer to complete.
Trained and authorised Doping Control Personnel will wait with the athlete and accompany them at all times until they are ready to provide their sample and the process is finished. They will be sympathetic and try to accommodate athlete needs as much as possible, so long as it does not impact the integrity of the testing process.
All athletes need to be aware that under the Anti-Doping rules, they must still provide a sample, and if an athlete refuses or fails to comply with the request, this may be regarded as an Anti-Doping Rule Violation resulting in a ban from sport.
To better understand the testing process, including an athlete’s rights and responsibilities, click here.
We are keen to hear from athletes and better understand their Anti-Doping experiences. If you have any concerns about the process or wish to share your experiences, don’t hesitate to contact UKAD at email@example.com.
Best wishes to all those celebrating Ramadan, Ramadan Mubarak. Wishing you all the blessings of the holy month.
A version of this article was first published in Nujum Sports magazine, Issue 1, March 2023. Nujum Sports is a non-profit organisation on a mission to see all Muslim athletes flourish. During Ramadan, they will be distributing care packs to over 300 Muslim athletes.