When you think of anti-doping rule violations, a positive urine or blood test is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, whereabouts failures can lead to stiff penalties for athletes included in the out-of-competition Registered Testing Pool (RTP) — even if they never used a banned substance.
Whereabouts failures are covered under Article 2.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code. Any combination of three missed tests or filing failures in a 12-month period will result in an anti-doping rule violation with a minimum sanction of 12-months.
RTP Athlete Requirements
RTP athletes are subject to unannounced out-of-competition testing for banned substances at any time and at any location.
According to our world-renowned sports attorney, if an athlete has been informed that they are part of the RTP, they must file quarterly whereabouts updates that provide information about their training locations, competitions, regularly scheduled activities, overnight locations, and a daily 60-minute window where they will be available for testing. This information must be updated on a timely basis when an athlete’s schedule changes.
Deadlines for whereabouts submissions are as follows:
- Quarter 1 deadline is December 15.
- Quarter 2 deadline is March 15.
- Quarter 3 deadline is June 15.
- Quarter 4 deadline is September 15.
Types of Whereabouts Violations
There are two different types of whereabouts violations: filing failures and missed tests.
Athletes commit a filing failure whereabouts violation if one of the following statements is true:
- They did not file the required whereabouts information by the quarterly deadline.
- The information they provided in their whereabouts filing was insufficient or inaccurate. For example, a filing that is missing a full address, specific dates, or a precise 60-minute window is considered incomplete.
You can provide changes to your schedule via an online app or by calling, texting, or emailing. Athletes must keep their information updated on a timely basis.
Athletes commit a missed test whereabouts failure if they are not available to be tested during their 60-minute designated testing window when a doping control officer comes to test them.
Doping Control Officers are required to make a reasonable attempt to locate you for testing. This includes knocking or ringing the doorbell at regular intervals if you are being tested at your residence or checking the gym, locker rooms, meeting rooms, and treatment rooms if you are being tested during your training time. An important note from our sports attorney: the Doping Control Officer is not required to call you or text you during your 60-minute time slot.
What to Expect After a Whereabouts Failure
As a general rule, you should provide a detailed explanation for each filing failure or missed test when it is alleged. If there are grounds, you should challenge it and appeal the finding an adverse decision. While you may think it’s a one-time mistake, you want to be able to protect yourself if unforeseen circumstances lead to a second or even third future missed test or filing failure.
The appeals process works as follows:
- Initial notice and athlete response. Athletes are sent initial notice of an apparent filing failure or missed test within 14 days of the date of discovery. This initial notification letter will invite the athlete to provide an explanation within 14 days as to why the filing failure or missed test occurred.
- Review and further investigation. Anti-doping authority staff will review any written response received from the athlete and conduct any needed further investigation. If no further investigation is necessary, a final decision will be issued within 14 days of receipt of the athlete’s response.
- Athlete appeal and administrative review. After receiving the final decision, the athlete has 14 days to appeal to an administrative review panel. The review panel will convene within 30 days, and the athlete will receive notice within seven days of the panel’s decision.
Although athletes are allowed to challenge all three violations if they are later charged with a whereabouts anti-doping violation, evidence to make your case successful becomes more difficult to locate as time passes. Testing officials are given the benefit of the doubt because of the importance of ensuring clean sport. As an athlete, it can be challenging to prove that your own negligence wasn’t the cause of the whereabouts failure. Working with an experienced sports attorney to protect your rights is the best way to reduce the potential consequences of a whereabouts failure.
Are You an Athlete Who Has Been Accused of a Whereabouts Failure? Contact Our Sports Attorney Today!
If you have been accused of a whereabouts failure, please contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule a initial 1 hour consultation with one of our international anti-doping lawyers. Attorneys Paul Greene and Matthew Kaiser are leaders in the field of sports law who have represented athletes from over 50 countries spanning nearly every sports category. When your career and reputation are at stake, you can count on Global Sports Advocates to protect your right to compete.