Elite athletes are under increased scrutiny in recent times. There are constantly changing rules and policies – and technological requirements – that elite athletes and their coaches must be aware of, especially when it comes to Whereabouts Failures. This article discusses new developments for 2024 and beyond.
Changes to Whereabouts Obligations
Athletes in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Registered Testing Pool (RTP), and Clean Athlete Program (CAP) are obligated to provide whereabouts information. Until December 31, 2023 athletes were required to use Athlete Express to fulfill this responsibility. As of January 1, 2024, athletes will now have to use Athlete Connect, a new web-based application that is supposed to streamline the process of updating whereabouts, viewing test results, and accessing other USADA information.
Athlete Obligations to Avoid Failures
Athletes in the RTP must adhere to certain whereabouts requirements in order to avoid failures. Two types of information must be submitted to USADA: quarterly whereabouts information and whereabouts updates.
Quarterly submissions are required by the 15th of the month ahead of each quarter. The information needed for quarterly submissions are the athlete’s daily overnight location, training locations and times, competitions, other regularly scheduled activities (school, work, etc.), and a daily 60 minute window. The daily 60 minute window is a specific time slot each day (between 5am and 11pm) where the athlete must be available for testing in a specific location. Note that testing can also occur outside of this 60 minute window.
Whereabouts updates are required when an athlete in the RTP has a change in their submitted quarterly schedule. These changes must be updated as soon as possible.
Clean Athlete Program
Athletes in the CAP only must submit basic contact information each quarter including their primary overnight residence, training locations, typical times of training, and competition details. These athletes are not subject to daily whereabouts updates or whereabouts failures.
Types of Failures for Clean Athlete Program
- Filing Failure Failing to comply with USADA’s whereabouts policies may result in a “Filing Failure.” This could be received as a result of inaccurately providing required whereabouts information and/or being unavailable for testing due to said incomplete or inaccurate whereabouts information.
- Missed Test: Failing to be present at a specific location during a specified 60-minute testing window may result in a “Missed Test.” Receiving three whereabouts failures in a rolling 12-month period would result in an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV), which, for a first offense, would subject the athlete to a period of ineligibility of one to two years.
What happens if you get accused of a whereabouts failure? - The Two Week Cycle
Athletes in the RTP who receive a filing failure or a missed test should be notified by USADA. Once this notice is received, an appeal process may take place with periods of 14 days between each step:
1. Initial Notice
- Sent to the athlete within 14 days of USADA’s discovery.
- Athletes have 14 days to provide an explanation to USADA regarding their filing failure or missed test.
2. USADA Review and Investigation
- The athlete’s explanation will be reviewed by USADA staff and conduct an investigation if necessary.
- If no further investigation is necessary, USADA will issue their final decision within 14 days of receipt of the athlete’s response.
3. Independent Administrative Review Panel
- Within 14 days of this final decision, the athlete may submit an appeal to have the case reviewed by an independent administrative review panel.
- This review should be completed no more than 30 days after the request of the athlete and the final decision should be delivered to the athlete no more than 7 days following the decision of the panel.
If any athlete receives three whereabouts failures within a 12-month period, files fraudulent whereabouts information, evades sample collection, or engages in tampering, they are allowed a full evidentiary hearing at request before disciplinary action is given.
Contact Our Sports Law Attorney to Protect Your Rights
For elite athletes, the process following a whereabouts failure is quick and complex. When your athletic career is at stake, don’t go it alone. Contact Sports Law Attorney Ryan J. Stevens today to request a consultation. Use our contact form or chat service, or give us a call at 928-226-0165. We want to protect your right to compete.