athlete considering unretirement after hearing anti-doping rulesWhether you feel like you’ve got some unfinished business or you’re simply driven by a passion for your sport, you’ll need to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s reinstatement protocols before returning to competition. These protocols help ensure that athletes are in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Anti-Doping Code.

4 Steps You Must Take to Return From Retirement

To be in compliance with anti-doping regulations, athletes returning from retirement need to complete the following steps:

  1. Re-enroll in the testing pool. You should send a return-from-retirement statement through courier, fax, or email to re-enroll in the testing pool. If you choose to send this form via email, it must come from an email address you have on file. 
  2. Make yourself available for testing. You must be available for testing for at least six months in advance of participating in International or National events covered by the World Anti-Doping Code. To reduce the risk of delaying your return after a positive test result due to contamination, our anti-doping attorneys recommend keeping detailed food logs and only using NSF Certified for Sport® supplements.
  3. Fulfill all necessary whereabouts requirements. During this six-month period, you’ll need to make sure you comply with WADA’s whereabouts requirements. Athletes can protect themselves from whereabouts failures by signing up for automated reminders to provide their whereabouts information through their results management authority. Other precautions our sports law attorneys recommend include keeping your phone’s GPS turned on at all times so you can verify your location as needed and planning for the possibility of technical problems whenever you’re traveling or in an area with spotty cell service.
  4. Complete any additional requirements related to your sport. Depending on your sport, you may need to fulfill additional requirements set by your National Governing Body (NGB) or International Federation (IF).

Once you’ve met these requirements as an athlete returning from retirement, you’ll be treated as a new athlete to the Registered Testing Pool (RTP).

Receiving an Exemption to the Waiting Period

What should you do if you want to return to competition before the end of your six-month waiting period? WADA, in consultation with the governing national anti-doping organization and the relevant IF, can grant an exemption to the waiting period where the strict application of the reinstatement rule would be unfair to an athlete.

The application to request an exemption asks for:

  • Detailed retirement information, including your date of retirement, reasons for retirement, and proof that notice of retirement was provided in writing to each Anti-Doping Organization (ADO) that included you in its RTP
  • The ADO that collected your whereabouts information
  • Your anti-doping history, including any past violations or whereabouts failures
  • Your reasons for wanting to return to competition at the National or International level
  • Your grounds for requesting an exemption, along with any relevant supporting documentation
  • The date you wish to return to competition

Athletes can appeal the decision as to whether an exemption should be granted to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Athletes have 21 days to file an appeal. However, decisions remain in effect while under appeal unless the appellate body orders otherwise.

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