• Intelligent testing programme features 72 per cent of tests out of competition
  • World Rugby focuses on furthering strategic partnerships with national anti-doping associations
  • World Rugby and unions to renew focus on youth education

World Rugby has announced details of its 2017 anti-doping programme, reaffiriming its commitment to the promotion of a level playing field on World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 'Play True Day'. 

The programme comprised 72 per cent of tests undertaken out of competition as the International Federation continues to prioritise an intelligence and risk-based approach in elite rugby. 

Maintaining a level playing field is imperative to the integrity of sport and World Rugby’s 2017 programme, run in partnership with regional and national anti-doping organisations, comprised 2,433 blood and urine controls undertaken across men’s and women’s sevens and 15s programmes. 

Focusing on continual improvement, World Rugby increased its collaboration with partner organisations to further boost effectiveness and responsiveness. This approach included the establishment of partnerships with new independent test services providers and an increased focus on intelligence and information sharing and educational programmes. 

Programme highlights

  • Programme undertaken on players from 62 nationalities in 35 countries
  • 2,433 controls taken during the year with 72 per cent taken out of competition
  • 48 per cent of tests were subjected to additional analysis for either erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs), growth hormone (GH) or growth hormone releasing factors (GHRFs)
  • 187 additional samples collected as part of World Rugby’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme
  • 131 tests undertaken within the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 programme
  • Cases relating to three anti-doping rule violations conducted or pending
  • Keep Rugby Clean education delivered to players and team personnel at Women’s Rugby World Cup, men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and World Rugby U20 Championship and Trophy events
  • Strategic long-term storage of samples providing opportunities for future re-analysis



World Rugby’s programme is in addition to the extensive programmes operated by regional and national anti-doping agencies and run in conjunction with national unions, and competitions . The complete 2017 programme figures will be published by the World Anti-Doping Agency later this year. 

Biological profiling continues to be the mainstay of the scientific programme along with a risk-focused sample storage and re-analysis programme, which develops year-on-year to maintain strong deterrence, and the long-term capacity for the detection of historical doping. 

Proportionally, World Rugby continues to commit at least two thirds of its programme to out-of-competition testing, focusing on the periods of highest risk – those of close-season, injury and recovery periods. In-competition testing also remains integral to World Rugby and regional tournaments to protect the integrity of results worldwide. 

To date one anti-doping rule violation has been concluded and reported from the overall 2017 programme with an additional two cases pending. 

Complementing its testing programme, World Rugby delivered face-to-face Keep Rugby Clean education to 1,500 players at its events, while a further 5,500 players and support staff completed the mandatory e-learning modules. 

Anti-doping continues to reach and engage with young elite and community players through World Rugby’s extensive social media channels and its Keep Rugby Clean website, with new educational films produced targeting a younger audience. 

World Rugby Anti-Doping Advisory Committee Chairman John O’Driscoll said: “Doping remains one of the biggest threats to the integrity of sport and World Rugby is committed to protecting clean athletes and maintaining a level playing field through intelligent testing and values-based education.”

World Rugby Anti-Doping General Manager Mike Earl added: “World Rugby is committed to effective, risk-based anti-doping testing. We take our role very seriously and strive to ensure that players at all levels of the game understand the importance of competing clean and that those who choose to cheat are detected and removed from our sport.  

“This comprehensive programme, featuring a two-thirds proportion of out-of-competition versus in-competition testing, haematological and steroidal biological passports, and additional analysis conducted on almost half of all samples collected, reflects our commitment to utilising all available tools for effective testing and analysis in this important area. 

“Rugby is proud to work in partnership with our NADO and RADO colleagues and to support WADA to ensure the best-possible standards within rugby and the wider sporting family.”