Information for athletes

In the foregoing all the steps of doping control are described – from doping control planning to sample collection and its sending to a laboratory.

Doping control planning

Each national anti-doping agency, including the Polish Commission Against Doping in Sport, has a self-prepared annual doping control plan and a doping control planning and sample analysis unit responsible for the implementation of the doping control plan. Each doping control pursuant to the plan is finally approved and conducted by the Doping Control Planning and Sample Review Unit consisting of only a few people in order to ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of the process. Key information needed to prepare the annual plan includes:

  • total number of doping tests that can be conducted (depending on the available budget),

  • number of urine and blood tests,

  • number of in competition and out of competition tests,

  • division of tests with respect to Olympic and non-Olympic sports,

  • ranking of sports with a high doping risk,

  • control statistics and the possibility of corrections in the number of tests.

Sometimes wrong and untrue information about doping control planning and its elements is disseminated, e.g. it is said that

  • an anti-doping agency works without any plan,

  • tests conducted with respect to the share of individual sports is accidental,

  • tests conducted with respect to the share of individual sports are biased and do not take into account the actual hazard.

Selection of an athlete for doping control

At this step the following criteria are taken into account:

  • athlete’s sport class,

  • progression of athlete’s results and sport achievements,

  • training periods and competition calendar,

  • type of sport discipline practiced,

  • analysis of past controls.

As in the case of doping control planning, also in the case of athlete selection false information is often disseminated:

  • athletes are selected for doping control randomly,

  • athletes are selected because of their well-known name,

  • athletes are selected by third parties (competitors, coaches)

Athlete notification of doping control

  • An athlete should be first notified of doping control by an authorized member of the doping control team or a cooperating volunteer,

  • An athlete, who has been notified of doping control in writing, must report to the Doping Control Station within the specified time frame (usually 30 to 60 minutes),

  • From notification to arrival at the Doping Control Station the athlete is supervised by a person authorized to do so,

  • After notification the athlete cannot use the bathroom.

At this stage rules are often violated, most often by the sport event organizer, i.e. the athlete is not escorted to the Doping Control Station.

Sample collection session

A sample (urine or blood) collection session is held at the Doping Control Station, i.e. a place, which according to the regulations, should be isolated and should ensure the athlete’s privacy. Such a place should be carefully prepared by the event organizer. In the case of out of competition control (training camp, tests conducted in club facilities or at home), the Doping Control Officer (DCO) decides about the place of doping control. The DCO is responsible for all the steps of the doping control process and all the decisions made during the process. In particular, the DCO decides about:

  • How the doping control place should be selected,

  • How athletes selected for doping control should be notified,

  • How much time the athlete has from notification to reporting at the doping control station,

  • Whether an athlete should be permitted to take part in a press conference or medal award ceremony

An athlete reporting to the Doping Control Station within the time stated in the notification should:

  • present a valid photo ID to confirm identity and in special cases present a supporting document,

  • if possible, arrive with an accompanying person (coach, physician, chaperone), particularly if the athlete is a minor. The accompanying person signs the doping control form only when s/he has taken part in the entire doping control process,

  • select WADA or IOC certified urine collection containers and check that they are clean and intact,

  • moderately hydrate when not ready for doping control (applies to urine tests only),

  • pass the necessary volume of urine; the process must be witnessed by a member of the doping control team,

  • perform all activities individually and without any assistance,

  • inform the DCO of all therapeutic use exemptions and medicinal preparations taken in the last 7 days,

  • check the doping control form and confirm that all the information, and in particular the unique control code, is correct,

  • ask doping control personnel for explanations in the case of any doubts at any stage of the doping control process,

  • ask doping control personnel or sport event organizer to provide an interpreter in case of language problems

The key elements of the urine collection session are sometimes thought to be subject to manipulation. It is sometimes claimed that:

  • the urine collection process was insufficiently witnessed,

  • samples collected from athletes are not properly sealed and stored and that they can be tampered with,

  • doping control personnel are biased towards some athletes (possible corruptive practices)

Safety and after control steps

Having completed the doping control process, doping control personnel must seal the sample, fill in all documents and prepare the samples for transport to the laboratory and the documents to the seat of the anti-doping agency. Samples are transported to the anti-doping laboratory immediately after the completion of the doping control process. All samples delivered to the laboratory must be signed for and their reception must be documented by an authorized laboratory analyst. Documents supplied to the laboratory are coded and carry no personal information which could be used to identify the athlete. Samples are handled in accordance with the analytical procedure defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency, i.e.:

  • Samples are placed in a transport container and sealed,

  • A set of doping control documents is prepared and provided to the anti-doping agency and the laboratory,

  • Samples are safely transported by the laboratory by a representative of the doping control team or a contracted third party

It is sometimes implied that at this stage anti-doping rules are violated, i.e.

  • Samples are not transported safely,

  • Athlete data is revealed to laboratory personnel,

  • A laboratory analyst makes a mistake