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Anti-Doping 101: What Parents Need to Know Before Their Child is Tested

Anti-doping efforts, which include in and out-of-competition testing, are critical to the delivery of a level playing field for athletes at all ages and levels of competition, from the Olympics to junior championships. While an anti-doping program helps ensure that sport is fair and safe, the testing process can be daunting for many young athletes, as well as the parents who support them.

Here is what you need to know to help prepare yourself and your young athlete for testing: 

When could my child be tested?

Not all junior athletes will be selected for anti-doping testing, but for the parents of highly competitive athletes, keep in mind that even young athletes may be subject to testing as they reach higher levels of competition.

If your child is a member of a National Governing Body (NGB), it’s important to remember that any member may be tested at any time and location, even if they are minors.

What substances will the sample be tested for? Where can that information be found? 

Junior athletes who are tested will be subject to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List, which outlines substances that are prohibited in-competition, at all times, and in specific sports. Some substances are also subject to specific limits, such as intravenous infusions and some asthma medications.

The Prohibited List doesn’t name every prohibited substance, but parents and their athletes can search medications and ingredients on to easily determine the permitted or prohibited status of their medications and medication ingredients. Keep in mind that Global DRO doesn’t include information on supplements and that supplements can be very risky for athletes because they don’t undergo a pre-market evaluation process by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like medications do. As such, they may be contaminated with harmful and prohibited substances that don’t even show up on the label.

What organizations oversee testing?

There are various organizations that may be contracted to perform anti-doping testing. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), for example, is recognized by Congress and contracted by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to conduct testing for Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American sport. However, other event organizers can also contract with other organizations to secure testing.

For NGBS and those who uphold the international standards outlined in the WADA Code, the Prohibited List, rules, and testing protocols would primarily be the same, regardless of the testing agency.

Who are the people doing the testing? Are they trained and credentialed?

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