Whereabouts are information provided by a limited number of top elite athletes about their location to the International Sport Federation (IF) or National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) that included them in their respective registered testing pool as part of these top elite athletes’ anti-doping responsibilities.
Because out-of-competition doping controls can be conducted without notice to athletes, they are one of the most powerful means of deterrence and detection of doping and are an important step in strengthening athlete and public confidence in doping-free sport. Accurate whereabouts information is crucial to ensure efficiency of the anti-doping programs, which are designed to protect the integrity of sport and to protect clean athletes.
The concept of out-of-competition is not new. Experience has shown that out-of-competition testing is crucial to the fight against doping, in particular because a number of prohibited substances and methods are detectable only for a limited period of time in an athlete’s body while maintaining a performance-enhancing effect. The only way to perform such testing is by knowing where athletes are, and the only way to make it efficient is to be able to test athletes at times at which cheaters may be most likely to use prohibited substances and methods.
Whereabouts rules are part of the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI). The ISTI is mandatory for Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs, including IFs, NADOs, Major Games Organizers, etc.) that have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (the document harmonizing anti-doping rules in all sports).
Whereabouts requirements are for the limited number of top-level athletes who are in the registered testing pool of either their IF or NADO. They were designed to give those top-level athletes a flexible tool to show their commitment to doping-free sport, as well as appropriate, sufficient and effective privacy protection.
WADA is not responsible for deciding who should be part of these registered testing pools. IFs are afforded discretion as to who should be subject to these provisions internationally, and NADOs are afforded discretion to create a registered testing pool at the national level. It is WADA’s recommendation that registered testing pools be of proportionate and manageable size and focus on top international and national elite athletes.
Athletes can have their agent or another representative submit their whereabouts information if they wish to. In team sports, whereabouts information can be submitted by team officials on a collective basis as part of the team’s activities.
However, athletes are ultimately responsible for their whereabouts. As a result, they cannot avoid responsibility by blaming their representative or the team for filing inaccurate information about their whereabouts or for not updating their whereabouts if they were not at the location specified by them during the 60-minute time-slot.
Whereabouts requirements are a practical tool to help ADOs conduct effective out-of-competition testing. Irrelevant of whether they have been selected to be part of a registered testing pool, athletes can still be tested out-of-competition by their IF, their NADO or other ADOs.