What is “Prohibited Association”?

"Prohibited Association” is one of the 11 Anti-Doping Rule Violations provided for in both the World Anti-Doping Code (‘the Code’) and the UK Anti-Doping Rules (‘UK ADR’). The Prohibited Association Rule therefore applies to any sport that has Code-compliant rules. If you are unsure whether it applies to your sport, please check with your governing body or UKAD.

If you know that someone is serving an anti-doping ban, and you associate with that person in a “professional or sport-related capacity”, then you are at a real risk of violating the Prohibited Association Rule, and could face up to a two-year ban from all sport if this is your first violation. This ban from sport can also be increased by up to an additional two years as part of the aggravating circumstances rule. Longer bans will be given to second and third offences, with up to a lifetime ban from sport possible.

Some examples of the types of association that are prohibited under this rule are:

  • Receiving coaching;

  • Receiving training;

  • Obtaining advice regarding strategy or technique;

  • Obtaining medical advice or treatment; OR

  • Obtaining nutritional advice from any person currently serving a ban.

This is not an exhaustive list of activities that may be caught by the Prohibited Association Rule. If you are unsure of what type of association with a banned person is and is not prohibited, please contact UKAD.

Please be aware that even if you are receiving free coaching, advice or training etc, it can still be caught by the Prohibited Association Rule. Payment is not necessary for the Rule to be broken.

It is important for you, everyone in your team and those closest to you – such as your coach, trainer, physio, doctor and family members – to be aware of this rule.

The reason why someone has been banned is irrelevant in applying the Prohibited Association Rule; it applies to any person currently serving a ban, regardless of the anti-doping rule that person has violated. See scenario 1 below as an example.

If someone in your team is working with a banned Athlete Support Person, you may be at risk - see scenario 2 below as an example. If you are unsure, please contact UKAD.

Scenario 1

John is a football coach for a club that is subject to the World Anti-Doping Code (‘the Code’). He is also a competitive triathlete who signs up for professional races from time to time, the rules for which also require him to comply with the Code. After competing in a race one weekend, John is required to provide a urine sample for anti-doping purposes. His test comes back positive for metandienone, an anabolic steroid. John is found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and is banned from all sport for four years. As a result of his ban, not only is John prohibited from racing in any events that apply Code-compliant rules, he can also no longer coach in football. That is, John is banned from being involved in any way – be it as an Athlete or an Athlete Support Person (as defined in the UK ADR or Code) – in any sport governed by Code-compliant rules. Any Athlete that associates with John during his ban in any prohibited way e.g. by receiving coaching from him, would be at risk of breaching the Prohibited Association Rule and so being banned from sport.

Scenario 2

You are aware that your coach is getting medical advice on your behalf from a doctor that is currently serving an anti-doping ban. You know that the doctor is currently serving a ban handed down by UKAD, as you have checked the current sanctions list on the UKAD website. You decide it’s not an issue for you because you have nothing to do with the doctor yourself. You therefore continue to accept the doctor’s advice, as obtained and provided to you by your coach. You are at a real risk of committing an anti-doping rule violation in this instance. The fact that you personally have no direct contact or relationship with the doctor is irrelevant: you know that the doctor is banned and you are receiving assistance from him in a sports capacity. You should cease any and all association with the doctor immediately. You should also report the activities of the doctor and your coach to UKAD.

Man lifting up a weight

WADA’s Prohibited Association List

WADA maintains a global list of Athlete Support Personnel who are currently serving a ban and who are therefore disqualified from working with Athletes and other persons subject to the Code. This list is designed to assist Athletes in making sure that they do not associate with anyone that may induce them (knowingly or unknowingly) to break the rules.

The list is updated quarterly and is available on the WADA website. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of people to avoid associating with. Athletes should make sure that they are not receiving assistance from anyone on the WADA Prohibited Association List OR anyone currently serving an anti-doping ban (be they serving a ban in their capacity as an Athlete or an Athlete Support Person). UKAD maintains a current sanctions list of all persons (including both Athletes and Athlete Support Personnel) under its jurisdiction that are currently serving a ban.

The WADA Prohibited Association List and UKAD current sanctions list are the best places to start if you are concerned that you may be associating with a banned person. However, please be aware that UKAD (and all other Anti-Doping Organisations) recognises and enforces bans that are imposed by other Anti-Doping Organisations. Therefore, these two lists are not a definitive list of all persons to avoid associating with as an Athlete.

This note is intended as guidance only and does not modify, supersede or replace any particular anti-doping rules. The terms of any applicable rules should be referred to for the definitive position. UKAD can also advise further in any particular case.