Frequently Asked Questions
What role does USA Triathlon play in the testing process?
USA Triathlon is fully committed to ensuring doping has no place in the sport of triathlon. USADA works with USA Triathlon, as well as all National Governing Bodies, in its anti-doping efforts.
Why are age group athletes being tested?
USADA is fully committed to protecting the rights of clean athletes, and just as the temptations and pressures to cheat aren't limited to elite athletes, the right to compete on a fair and level playing field shouldn't be limited to elite athletes either. Athletes of all levels should have the reassurance that they do not need to cheat in order to compete and succeed in their sport. USADA continuously works to protect these rights and works closely with USA Triathlon to understand where the potential for cheating exists.
What substances are being tested for?
As the national anti-doping agency in the United States, mandated to implement the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code in this country, USADA tests for the substances and methods found on the WADA Prohibited List. The full list can be found here. Testing at competitions could include special analysis such as for EPO, CIR, hGH, HBT, etc.
What are the steps in the testing process?
USADA's "What is Drug Testing" video, found here, offers an in-depth look at what an athlete can expect during an out-of-competition, no-notice drug test. While the video does not depict an in-competition test, the sample collection process will be the same. The athlete pocket guide also provides a step-by-step guide to the testing process and can be downloaded here.
Who will be doing the testing?
USADA doping control officers (DCOs) conduct all testing. As USADA Staff, DCOs conduct both In-Competition and Out-of-Competition testing of athletes involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Movement within the United States.
How are athletes chosen for testing?
USADA works with USA Triathlon to develop a plan for testing, which at a competiton can often include specific place finishers as well as random selections from the field. So, just as an example, that plan may be the top finishers in given categories, and then places such as 10th, 12th, 15th , 18th, 25th, 42nd, 87th, etc. All athletes, however, should understand that they are subject to testing.
Will age group athletes only be tested on race day?
Simply put, the overwhelming majority of age-group athletes will only ever experience a doping control during a competition. It is still important to understand however, that a critical component of USADA's drug testing program is the Out-of-Competition test, and in its efforts to protect the rights of clean athletes, reserves the right to test any NGB member athlete in a no-notice, out-of-competition setting.
How do I know that I am not taking a banned substance?
Athletes can check the status of their medications by visiting the Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) database. The site allows athletes, coaches, parents or anyone else to search for a substance, by an ingredient, or its generic or brand name. USADA also maintains a drug reference phone line that allows athletes to connect with an expert regarding their medication. Keep in mind that neither resource provides information on dietary supplements. For more information visit www.usada.org
Can taking a dietary supplement trigger a positive test?
Unfortunately, due to the lack of regulation present in today's nutritional supplement marketplace, including the existence of unscrupulous, rogue supplement manufactures, USADA is unable to provide direction or guidance as to which dietary supplements are safe, and which contain prohibited substances. USADA is currently working with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, USOC and other national sports and health organizations to eliminate this uncertainty in the marketplace. The effort, called "Supplement Safety Now" includes media outreach and grassroots mobilization. USADA is also in the process of launching an online portal specifically dedicated to the questions and issues surrounding supplements.
What is a Therapeutic Use Exemption and when can I apply for one?
A Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) allows an athlete with a legitimate medical need for an otherwise prohibited substance to use that substance with approval. USADA is here to help athletes who have questions about the TUE Process. Athletes should begin here by determining if a TUE is needed for their specific competition level. If it is determined that a TUE is needed, this section of USADA's website will also explain how athletes can apply for a TUE.
All age group athletes are advised to check with their National Anti-Doping Agency and their National Triathlon Federation to determine if there are domestic or federation policies which may be different from those of the WTC. Stricter TUE requirements could be applicable to you based on requirements of other sanctioned triathlon competitions (i.e., ITU, Xterra) and/or required based on domestic policy or National Federation membership.
The WTC further advises that ALL U.S. athletes, by virtue of their USAT membership, are required to follow the TUE Policies of the US Anti-Doping Agency and should contact USADA to confirm if a TUE is required.
What happens if I refuse testing?
Failure or refusal to submit to doping control constitutes an anti-doping rules violation and can result in a two-year sanction including loss of results. Athletes should fully understand the consequences of an anti-doping rules violation before refusing to submit to doping control. For more information, review the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing. This document is available on the USADA website here.
What happens if I test positive?
The process for what happens after a positive test is outlined in the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympics Movement Testing. This document is available on the USADA website here.
Is there an appeal process to protest a positive test?
Yes. In accordance with the WADA Code athletes are given a full and fair process to appeal anti-doping rules violations. The USADA results management process is outlined in the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing. This document is available on the USADA website here.
Does USA Triathlon have a registered testing pool of elite athletes?
Yes, there is an ongoing pool of athletes included in the Registered Testing Pool with USADA to ensure out of competition testing.
Are any age group athletes a part of the registered testing pool?
For Elite Athletes
How does USA Triathlon work in conjunction with ITU and other federations to see that U.S. athletes are tested in competition at an ITU World Cup or ITU World Championship event?
ITU organizes the process in conjunction with the local organizers and the national anti-doping organization or authority of that particular country, in keeping with international anti-doping protocols, and taking into consideration the international scope of the field of competition. We help facilitate our athletes' participation, when they are notified for testing, with doping control officials on-site.
How does USA Triathlon coordinate with WTC to ensure that U.S. and foreign elite athletes are tested in competition at an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 event sanctioned by USA Triathlon?
For 2012, USA Triathlon does not coordinate with the WTC to ensure that athletes are being tested for Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races. WTC contracts with USADA.
How does USA Triathlon work alongside USADA when it comes to out-of-competition testing for National Team Program athletes?
In the U.S., National Governing Bodies (NGBs) for Olympic and Paralympic sports recognize USADA as the independent anti-doping authority. USA Triathlon athletes, as members of an Olympic NGB, are subject to year-round, no advance notice, out-of-competition testing. Many of these athletes are included in what is called the Registered Testing Pool (RTP) and required to submit whereabouts information based on the USADA Protocols, the USOC Anti-Doping Policies, and the World Anti-Doping Code. This harmonizes anti-doping efforts around the world. USADA administers this process in coordination with NGBs.
Is all testing of American athletes contracted through USADA?
In the U.S., USADA is the recognized independent agency for anti-doping in Olympic and Paralympic sport. If the athletes are outside the United States we work with the respective national anti-doping agency and WADA.
Is USA Triathlon under contract with USADA?
Testing is administered under USADA's mandate, under contract with the USOC, on a year-round basis. As an NGB we work with USADA and the other anti-doping agencies on an ongoing, indefinite basis.
With so many federations involved in the worldwide testing process, what is USA Triathlon doing to help ensure certain athletes are not being tested twice while other athletes are not being tested at all?
Anti-doping authorities around the world, in conjunction with the WADA Code, coordinate efforts to maximize efficiency of resources, and prioritize the well-being of the athletes being tested. For USA Triathlon, this means regular communication primarily between USA Triathlon National Team Program Manager Anna Mack, who serves as our anti-doping liaison, WTC Director of Anti-Doping Services Kate Mittelstadt, USADA and ITU, etc.
What is the breakdown of out-of-competition testing in terms of blood drawing and urine testing?
The higher percentage is urine, but the distribution is ultimately USADA’s determination and is not disclosed to ensure the integrity of the program.
When it comes to preventing doping in multisport, what is the largest hurdle faced by triathlon anti-doping initiatives?
Historically triathlon has not experienced a doping problem, but obviously it remains a significant concern for all sports today and one with which we try to stay ahead of the curve. Looking ahead, one of the biggest challenges is the continual advancement of science and possible attempts by athletes to beat new testing procedures.
How might testing affect my athletes on race day?
USADA carefully considers the well-being of all athletes it tests and plans accordingly to minimize any effects on the competition.
For Race Directors
How do I know if there will be testing at my event?
USADA does not specifically contact race directors prior to an event in which testing will occur. For events where testing will occur, USADA works closely with the NGB to secure a site coordinator who is able to focus primarily on doping control efforts. In most cases, the NGB and its designated site coordinator will inform the race director that testing will occur at the event.
When will I be notified if there will be testing at my event?
USADA will contact the NGB 8-10 weeks prior to an event to finalize details on a site coordinator. The site coordinator is someone who is able to focus primarily on doping control efforts and serves as USADA's contact for the event.
What will be required of me if there is testing at my event?
USADA will work closely with the NGB and event management representatives to make sure the testing process is a smooth one. For event testing, a site coordinator will need to be assigned who is able to focus on anti-doping efforts. Secure facilities, reserved exclusively for doping control purposes and private enough to maintain the athletes’ privacy and confidentiality, must be provided. Also, sealed rehydration beverages and a specific number of volunteers/chaperones assigned exclusively to doping control are required. A site coordinator handbook is available for download here.
USADA's Athlete Resources
USADA's Athlete Section
USADA's website offers a page specifically dedicated to athletes. The site features information on prohibited substances; information on the World Anti-Doping (WADA) code; as well as quick links and resources to help you better understand the sample collection process. Navigate to www.usada.org/athletes to get started.
USADA's Drug Reference Line
USADA's Drug Reference Line has been established to provide athletes, or anyone else for that matter, a personal resource to understanding prohibited substances based on the WADA Prohibited List. A pharmacist is available to answer questions athletes may have about the status of a substance, whether a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) is needed, and how that process can be started or carried out. The resource is available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST. The number is (800) 233-0393 within the United States and (719) 785-2020 if calling from outside the country.
The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) is an extensive, web-based database, which USADA - and now with the partnership of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) - offers free to athletes, coaches, parents, medical professionals and administrators at any level. The site, www.GlobalDRO.com, allows users to search for an ingredient, drug or brand name to determine if the substance is prohibited in-competition, out-of-competition or both, and by which methods (e.g. injection, ingestion, inhalation). The resource even breaks down banned substances by sport, for those substances which are prohibited in certain sports but not others.
For those athletes interested in learning more about anti-doping resources, USADA's website also offers a wide range of brochures, pocket guides, videos and other literature to get up to speed on topics including nutrition, dietary supplements, prohibited substances and testing protocols. These resources are located in the Web site's "For Athletes" and "Resources" sections.
"What is Drug Testing?" Video
For those interested in seeing what a drug test is all about, and what the rights and responsibilities are of an Olympic or Paralympic level athlete, the "What is Drug Testing?" video is the easiest resource for learning about the sample collection process - www.USADA.org/Collection. While focusing on no-notice, out-of-competition tests, the video also discusses in-competition testing, the kind most age-groupers would ever face.
Therapeutic Use Exemptions
Athletes who demonstrate the medical need for substances or methods that are otherwise banned in sport have the opportunity to go through the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process. USADA provides straightforward and clear instructions on how to complete the TUE process, by providing information on: how to determine if a particular substance requires a TUE (including a break down based on competition level); how to apply for a TUE if it is determined that the athlete indeed needs one; and how to submit and complete the TUE application process. Again, www.USADA.org/TUE is the best place to begin.
- USADA's "For Athletes" Website
- Video: What is Drug Testing?
- Global Drug Reference Online
- Therapeutic Use Exemptions and Medical Declarations
- USADA Policies and Procedures
- ITU Compliant with WADA, ITU Press Release, March 4, 2011
- Age Group Triathlete Testing Deemed a Success, USA Triathlon Press Release, Feb. 23, 2011
- ITU Institutes Athlete Biological Passport Programme, ITU Press Release, July 28, 2010
- Drug-testing for masters athletes? Track officials grapple with question for the ages, June 22, 2010
- The Doper Next Door, Bicycling Magazine, June 2010
- World Triathlon Corporation Enhances Anti-Doping Program, WTC Press Release, Sept. 10, 2009
- AG drug testing: good idea?, slowtwitch.com, Sept. 10, 2009
- Ironman's burden, slowtwitch.com, Nov. 24, 2009