Athlete Questions and Answers: UKAD and COVID-19

Dear Athletes

We are acutely aware of the effect that the COVID-19 virus is having on society, sport and the wider sporting community, both here in the UK and globally.

Our priority is the health and welfare of athletes, UKAD staff, and Doping Control Personnel (DCP). As an organisation our ongoing responsibility remains to protect clean sport, but we must give precedence to health and welfare and act responsibly in line with government advice during this unprecedented time.

This FAQ document is intended to explain how UKAD will ensure that the government guidelines are adhered to, whilst enabling us to carry out our responsibilities. We will update the FAQs whenever circumstances change.

A special thank you to the members of the UKAD Athlete Commission for their support in pulling this document together. 

Athletes continue to remain subject to all provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code during this period.

The UK government guidelines on social distancing are being observed. UKAD office staff are working from home and the office has been closed. To contact UKAD during this time please see the information below:

Thank you and stay well.

All of us at UK Anti-Doping

Will UKAD still be testing athletes?

On March 17, UKAD announced a reduction in the testing programme, however athletes could still be tested, any time, any place. While this is an extraordinarily difficult and uncertain time, we believe some testing should remain in place.

What is UKAD doing to protect the health and safety of athletes and DCP (Doping Control Personnel)?

UKAD has developed specific guidelines for this period to protect all those involved in or exposed to the sample collection process. These guidelines are constantly under review and updated in line with government advice. They include:

  • DCP wearing personal protective equipment (where available)
  • Maintaining a two-metre distance between the athlete and the DCP
  • Washing hands (and encouraging the athlete to wash hands) regularly throughout the sample collection process
  • Disinfecting work surfaces at appropriate times throughout the sample collection process

Any UKAD DCP conducting testing during this period will be selected in line with UK Government advice. UKAD is recording and monitoring, on an ongoing basis, DCP travel history and any occurrences of self-isolation and illness. UKAD will not use any DCP who, based on this information, would pose a health risk to the athlete. DCP assigned to conduct a test will carry a Letter of Authority from UKAD specific to the timeframe of the testing.

Can athletes wash their hands and use sanitiser prior to giving a sample?

Athletes will be asked to wash their hands (or use hand sanitiser) at various stages of the Doping Control process. When athletes are ready to provide their sample, they will be required to wash their hands with water only OR wear gloves.

The use of soap or hand sanitiser would not be permitted at this stage in order to avoid contamination of the sample. This is the normal procedure as set out in the International Standards for Testing and Investigations and will still be followed. At all other times of the process athletes will be able wash their hands with soap (or use hand sanitiser).

Once the process is complete regular handwashing with soap is encouraged.

How can UKAD guarantee that athletes will still be subject to a strict testing regime?

UKAD’s testing programme has been reduced to ensure that the wellbeing and health of athletes and DCP is protected during these challenging times. Like many other organisations UKAD has implemented its business continuity plans to ensure its operations continue throughout this crisis. This includes:

  • Delivering education and information programmes
  • Processing TUE applications (see further TUE advice below)
  • Receiving and analysing intelligence and conducting investigations
  • Results management to determine anti-doping rule violations
  • Long term sample storage, samples can be retested in the future
  • Ongoing analysis of athlete whereabouts information

All are key components of UKAD’s mission to protect clean sport.

How will COVID-19 affect UKAD’s education programme?

All Clean Sport education will now be delivered online through webinars. Until further notice we will not be delivering any face-to-face education. We continue to provide as much support to athletes and Athlete Support Personnel as possible and are adapting our education to meet the needs of this unique situation.

Will Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) hearings take place? Are there processes in place to do this remotely?

Yes, hearings before the National Anti-Doping Panel are still taking place and will do so remotely.

Are you still able to test samples?

WADA accredited laboratories around the world are still operational therefore they will continue to analyse any samples collected or samples in long-term storage.

I'm an athlete training overseas, am I still going to get tested?

The COVID-19 pandemic is global, impacting many countries and their anti-doping programmes. However, testing programmes are continuing around the world, and therefore you could be tested abroad. The test would be completed either by the local National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO), by your International Federation, or at the request of UKAD. Where UKAD has requested the test, we will liaise closely with the local NADO conducting the sample collection on our behalf to ensure that all necessary precautionary measures are being implemented.

If you are tested abroad and you have any concerns with the sample collection process then you should complete the test, record your observations on the Doping Control Form in the ‘Athlete’s Comments’ section and should notify UKAD and your National Governing Body upon completion of the test.

If a DCP arrives to test me should I let them in if I’m self-isolating (e.g. as a precaution, if I have COVID-19, or live with an individual who is part of a high risk and vulnerable group)?

If a UKAD DCP arrives to test an athlete during this period, they will ask the athlete if they, or anyone they are living with (if testing at a home address) is self-isolating or in a high-risk group (for example, the elderly, pregnant). In such instances:

  • the DCP will ask a series of questions in relation to the self-isolating process/high risk individual. You should ensure that you respond to these questions as completely and accurately as possible. The DCP will make a full record of your answers and will share a copy of this with you
  • the decision to proceed with the test will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis; a self-isolating athlete does not automatically have the right to refuse to provide a sample. We remind athletes that refusing to provide a sample can result in a four-year ban from sport. All relevant information must be provided to DCP upon request. Having received all information, where it is decided not to proceed with the test, the DCP will send the report to UKAD and if UKAD requires any further evidence then it will follow-up with the athlete directly

UKAD emphasises that if an athlete or Athlete Support Person provides any information which is false, they may be committing an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV).

If an athlete is charged with that ADRV they face a ban of up to four years for a first offence.

UKAD is liaising with National Governing Bodies to proactively identify athletes who are self-isolating. This will help UKAD to factor this information in to any upcoming test plans.

I am an athlete who provides whereabouts to UKAD. Do I still need to provide this information?

Yes. During this period, an athlete’s anti-doping responsibilities remain unchanged. If you are an athlete providing whereabouts to UKAD, then you must continue to do so.

We understand that for many athletes your ‘regular activities’, such as training are either severely disrupted or have ceased. Your whereabouts should reflect, to the best of your knowledge, your whereabouts. Therefore, if your ‘regular activities’ have stopped then you would not need to record these in your whereabouts. Once you recommence your ‘regular activities’, you should update your whereabouts accordingly.

If you can maintain regular activities during this period, you should record this information as normal in your whereabouts.

We also request that if you are self-isolating or live with an individual from a high-risk group (e.g. the elderly, pregnant), please enter this information into your whereabouts so that UKAD is aware.

Do I still need to submit a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) application?

Yes. Athletes remain responsible for ensuring they have a valid TUE (where applicable).

We are no longer able to receive applications by post and therefore require all applications to be submitted via email to

Athletes should contact if they experience any difficulty in accessing the necessary medical evidence to support their TUE application at this current time.

Will UKAD still be receiving and processing intelligence and conducting investigations?

Yes. The UKAD Intelligence & Investigations team are working. We continue to receive, assess and disseminate intelligence and act on it where necessary.

As always, the team is easily contactable via telephone (08000 32 23 32) and online: 

If anyone has information that could be of interest to UKAD and its investigations on any matter, please do contact us as usual.