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Our International Sports Law Attorneys Discuss the Disqualification of Results Under the WADC

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) allows for the disqualification of both individual and team results when an athlete has committed an anti-doping rule violation. At Global Sports Advocates, our international anti-doping rule violation lawyers help athletes navigate the sanctions process for anti-doping rule violations, including the potential disqualification of results.

Automatic Individual Disqualification of Results

Article 9 of the WADC states that an anti-doping rule violation in an individual sport based on an in-competition doping control test will automatically lead to the disqualification of the result obtained in that competition. This will include the forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

Under Article 10.1, if a positive test occurs in a team sport, the team may face sanctions and disqualification depending on the type of event in which the athlete committed an anti-doping rule violation. For example, if a member of a relay team or synchro pair in diving tests positive, the result of the whole relay team or synchro team in that event will be disqualified. On larger teams with more athletes on the field of play, such as a soccer team, typically more than two players need to test positive before a sanction is imposed on the whole team. However, it is ultimately up to each individual international federation to decide the specific rule that applies to its athletes and teams.

Disqualification of Results From an Event Where an Anti-Doping Rule Violation Occurred

An anti-doping rule violation that occurs during or in connection with an event (for example, the World Championships where an athlete may be competing in more than one race) may lead to disqualification of all of the athlete’s individual results obtained in that event (not just the one they test positive in), including the loss of prizes, points, and medals. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the ruling body to decide whether the other results should be disqualified.

However, if an athlete can establish that they bear no fault or negligence, their other results within an event will automatically be preserved, unless the international federation or anti-doping organization can prove that the other results were likely to have been affected by the anti-doping rule violation.

Disqualification of Results in Competitions After a Sample Collection or Anti-Doping Rule Violation

In addition to the automatic disqualification of the results under Article 9, all other results obtained from the date a positive sample was collected or another anti-doping rule violation occurred to the start of any provisional suspension or period of ineligibility will be disqualified unless fairness requires otherwise. Some factors that arbitrators consider when making such a determination include the seriousness of the athlete’s anti-doping rule violation, whether they’ve tested negative in other competitions, and the athlete’s degree of fault.

To learn more, refer to the World Anti-Doping Code PDF download on the WADA website.