Doping control involves the collection of a blood or urine sample from a player by a trained doping control official. Often, both types of sample are collected at the same control. It’s sometimes referred to as a ‘drug test’. Players and teams are never given advanced warning of a control. You can be asked to submit to a control at any time and
any location (such as at your home, overnight address, or hotel), and samples are analysed for a wide range of doping substances. It’s a chance to show that you are competing clean, and it’s also one of the most effective methods of detecting those who are cheating. This
section explains the process.
Who can test me?
You might be tested by any of these organisations:
1. World Rugby
2. The NADO of your home country
3. The NADO of any country in which you are staying/visiting
4. The organizing body of an event in which you are competing (such
as the competition organiser, or the IOC for the Olympic Games).
Any of these organisations may also appoint a private test collection company to collect samples.
How does the process work?
The Players to be tested are usually selected in advance by the antidoping organisation who planned the test. A doping control official (a Chaperone or Doping Control Officer (DCO)) will notify you that you
have been selected.
If the test is after a match, the doping control official will usually notify you as you enter the tunnel. If the test is at training, the official must observe you while you train, but they will usually wait until you have completed your session before they notify you. Never ignore an official who is trying to notify you.
The doping control official should always carry identification (showing their name and photograph, and an expiry date). This may be an identification card from the anti-doping organisation or a driver’s license, health card, passport, event accreditation or something similar. They should also have documentation showing which organisation has appointed them. You can check this when you are notified.
The official will inform you of your rights and responsibilities, and will ask you to sign a Doping Control Form (DCF) to confirm your agreement to complete the test. You must complete a test when asked to do so. Failure to submit to a doping control is an Anti-Doping Rule Violation, with a possible sanction of four years. The official will give you a copy of the form as your record of notification.
The official will ask you to show them some identification to confirm that they have the correct player. This should be a photo ID, but if you don’t have one with you, you can show an official photo from your team website. A member of your team staff can also formally confirm your identity to the official if necessary. The official will then escort you to the Doping Control Station (DCS) where testing takes place. You can ask a representative and/or interpreter to go with you. Minors should always take a representative with them.
If the test is conducted at a private address or hotel, you will usually be notified at the door of your house/room, and the official will identify an appropriate location to complete sample collection.
2. Being chaperoned
Once you are notified, it is your responsibility to stay within direct view of the doping control official who is observing you (this person is known as your ‘chaperone’). The chaperone will stay at a reasonable distance from you, but you must always ensure that you do not leave their sight. This is particularly important if you are both in a busy area such as a changing room. Never leave or go into another room without taking them with you.
3. Reporting for testing
You should report to the DCS with your chaperone as soon as possible, but the chaperone may allow you to delay reporting (or temporarily leave the DCS under observation) to complete any of the following activities. You must always stay in direct view of your chaperone, and report within one hour of being notified:
i. Attend a victory ceremony
ii. Fulfil media commitments
iii. Perform a warm-down or take an ice bath
iv. Receive any necessary medical attention
v. Attend a post-match team meeting in your changing room
vi. Change out of your playing kit
vii. Locate a representative and/or interpreter
viii. Obtain relevant identification
ix. Complete a training session if selected for out of competition testing
x. Any other reasonable circumstances as determined by the DCO
(and which shall be documented).
You cannot shower until you have completed the entire doping control process. However, if you are wet after a match or training, you can change clothes under observation of your chaperone. Once you are notified, the first urine you pass must be collected by the
doping control official.
The urine testing process
4. Hydrating (and dilute samples)
You need to rehydrate after a match or training, but be careful how much you drink. Over-hydrating can make your urine sample too dilute, and you might be asked to produce additional samples until you reach the right level. Two bottles of 500ml liquid is usually enough to drink between the end of training or competition and providing your sample. If it’s taking you a long time to feel ready to produce your sample, just sit and wait. Drinking more and more water won’t make it arrive any quicker and you increase the risk of a dilute sample.
There should always be sealed bottles of water provided for you in the DCS. Always choose your own bottle, and never accept one that is handed to you by someone else. If a pen is available, write your name on your bottle so that you know which is yours and always take it with you when you leave the room. Never return to finish a bottle that you have left unattended in the waiting room. Choose a new sealed bottle, and put your half-finished one in the waste bin. You can rehydrate with your own choice of drink, but ensure that there is no chance anyone could have tampered with the contents of your bottle beforehand.
You are not permitted to consume alcohol from the point of notification until you complete your sample. We know this might seem unfair if you have just won a big match but it’s the rules!
5. Selection of collection vessel
When you are ready to produce your sample, you will choose one sealed collection vessel. This will hold your sample, so make sure it is clean and the packaging is intact. Also make sure you are given a choice of vessel. Never accept one that is handed directly to you.
6. Provision of sample
Sample provision will take place in a private toilet. You must produce your sample in full view of a doping control official of the same gender, and the official must watch the urine directly leave your body. You will be asked to remove your clothing from your knees to your midriff and from your hands to your elbows.
You should also wash your hands without soap before and after providing your sample. You may also be given the option to wear gloves instead. These will be provided by the doping control official.
7. Volume of urine
You must produce a sample of at least 90ml (more is fine). If you provide less than 90ml, this is called a Partial sample and it will be temporarily sealed, and documented on your DCF, according to the process in section 11 below. When you are ready to produce more urine, your next sample will be added to your Partial sample until the total reaches 90 mls. Once you have provided a sample you must never discard it unless you are specifically advised to do so by a DCO.
8. Selection of sample collection kit
You will be asked to choose a sealed sample collection kit. This contains the bottles that your sample will be stored in, so be sure that the security on the packaging is intact. Again, make sure you are given a choice of kit and never accept one that is handed directly to you. Open the kit, remove the A and B bottles and verify that the numbers on the bottles are the same. The DCO will ask you to place the bottle cap upside down on the table and discard the red rings inside.
9. Splitting and sealing the sample
The DCO will instruct you to pour a specific amount of urine from your collection vessel into the B bottle, and then the A bottle. You will be asked to leave some urine in the collection vessel. The bottles can now be sealed. The DCO will check that both bottles have been sealed correctly before you place them in an individual tamper-proof plastic bag and return them to their storage box.
10. Measuring Specific Gravity (SG)
The leftover urine will be measured for SG to ensure the density of the sample is suitable for analysis. If the sample is too dilute, you may be asked to provide additional samples.
11. Sealing a partial sample
If your sample is less than 90 mls, you will be asked to select a sealed sample collection kit (as per section 5) and pour the sample into one of the bottles. Then you will be asked to place a plastic stopper on top before returning the sample bottles to their box. Next you will place the box inside a large tamper-proof plastic bag with a unique number that will be recorded on your DCF. Either you or the DCO must keep the partial sample under your control once it is sealed.
When you make your next attempt to produce a sample (to reach a total of 90 mls), the new urine will be added to this partial sample. Some organisations also use a partial sample system that seals the sample directly in the collection beaker. This is also a secure method of partial sample storage. Just always satisfy yourself that your sample is sealed and stored in a way that would not allow it to be tampered with.
The blood testing process
As with a urine test, once you are notified, report with your doping control official to the DCS. Urine and blood samples are often taken at the same doping control.
You must be seated and still for ten minutes before your blood sample is collected. Depending on the type of test, if you’ve exercised before being notified, you may be asked to rest under supervision of the doping control official for up to two hours before the sample is collected. The official or a Blood Collection Officer (BCO) may also ask you some questions about whether you have had any blood-related medical processes recently. Make sure you have the telephone number of your doctor in case you need to ask them any questions.
2. Selection of sample collection kit
Next you will choose your collection equipment. Make sure you are given a choice and that it’s securely sealed. The equipment will usually include the needle, the vials for collection (tubes called ‘vacutainers’), the numbered labels that identify your sample, and collection bottles for sealing your sample.
3. Sample provision
The BCO will identify which arm your blood will be collected from. Your skin will be cleaned with a sterile swab and a tourniquet may be applied. Next the BCO will find a suitable vein, usually at your elbow joint, and insert the butterfly needle. If the BCO can’t insert the needle after 3 separate attempts, blood collection is abandoned, but you may still need to provide a urine sample.
Once the needle is in, up to four vials (from your selected kit) will be attached in turn. These fill automatically with your blood. Don’t worry, you won’t feel anything as they are changed over.
4. Sealing the samples
The BCO labels each vial with a code number that matches the collection bottles in the kit you selected. You’ll be asked to place each tube in the corresponding bottle and securely seal each one. Check that the bottle numbers match the ones on your DCF. Your samples will then be placed in a refrigerator or cool box until the test mission is over and they can be taken to the laboratory for analysis.
Once you have sealed your final sample, you will be asked to document any medications or supplements you have taken in the last seven days, and you can also comment on the doping control process (good or bad!). Finally you, the DCO (and your representative if you have one with you) will be asked to sign the DCF to confirm that all information is correct. Your DCF is the written record of your test, so it’s very important that the information contained on it is accurate. Always check the form carefully before you sign.
The DCO will then give you a copy of the DCF and if you have completed all your tests then you are free to go. If you still have a urine or blood test to complete, stay in the DCS and await further instructions.
Your samples are sent to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Accredited Laboratory for analysis. This usually takes a few weeks depending on the analysis. Results are notified to the anti-doping organisation who planned the control, but you will only normally be informed if your result comes back positive.