How whereabouts requirements operate in five different team sports

Published 03 May 2017 By: Natalie St Cyr Clarke

Hand writing anti-doping symbol with red marker

Whereabouts rules hit the news in early 2017 after Manchester City[1] and Bournemouth[2] were both charged by The Football Association (The FA) for failing to notify officials of player whereabouts for doping controls. Whereabouts information is information provided, normally by individual elite athletes, about their location at a given time. Such information is given to the relevant International Federation (IF) or National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) to conduct and facilitate out-of-competition “No Advance Notice Testing”.[3]

Global whereabouts rules changed on 1 January 2009, after a revision of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) and the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) in order to end the inconsistencies of “whereabouts” regimes across different IFs and NADOs.[4] The change in rules built on the practical experience gained by WADA and its stakeholders in the implementation of the WADA Code since its inception in 2004 and is considered to be a powerful means of deterrence and detection of doping.[5]

In 2009, FIFA and UEFA issued a statement rejecting whereabouts information with regard to individual athletes and wanted to see it replaced by collective location rules because there are “fundamental differences between an individual athlete who trains on his own…and a team-sport athlete, who is present at the stadium six days out of seven, and thus easy to locate”.[6] Both FIFA and UEFA have subsequently accepted whereabouts rules for individual athletes. Nonetheless, this article briefly explores the whereabouts obligations of teams in football, rugby, cricket, basketball and volleyball. Specifically, it looks at:

  • Individual whereabouts requirements – a brief discussion of the regime on individual athletes before we move on to team sports.

  • Whereabouts requirements for athletes in team sports

  • Football
    • The FA
    • FIFA
    • UEFA

  • Rugby
    • RFU
    • World Rugby

  • Cricket
    • ICC
    • ECB

  • Volleyball

  • Basketball

  • Comment

 

Individual whereabouts requirements 

Before exploring the whereabouts requirements of teams, it is worth mentioning the obligations of individual athletes. Not all athletes are subject to whereabouts requirements but those who are must comply with detailed requirements, such as those outlined in Annex I of the ISTI.

According to Article 5.6 of the WADA Code,[7] athletes included in a Registered Testing Pool by an IF or NADO must provide whereabouts information. WADA is not responsible for deciding who should be part of these registered testing pools; it is the responsibility and at the discretion of IFs and NADOs.

For instance, the International Athletics Federation, the IAAF, includes the top-ranked athletes in each event, by reference to the official IAAF World Rankings and Performance Lists, as well as any other athlete the IAAF decides to include at its own discretion, based on factors such as sudden improvement in performance during the year, return from injury, doping intelligence and the lack of a national level Testing Programme.[8]

Pursuant to Article I.1.1 of Annex I of the ISTI, an athlete included in a Registered Testing Pool is required,

to make quarterly Whereabouts Filings that provide accurate and complete information about the Athlete’s whereabouts during the forthcoming quarter”. Athletes must “specify in his/her Whereabouts Filings, for each day in the forthcoming quarter, one specific 60-minute time slot where he/she will be available at a specific location for Testing”.[9]

According to Article 2.4 of the WADA Code, a whereabouts failure is defined as “Any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures, as defined in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations, within a twelve-month period by an Athlete in a Registered Testing Pool.” The twelve-month period commences on the date that the athlete commits the first whereabouts failure (article I.1.3, Annex I, ISTI).

The sanction for a whereabouts failure is a two-year period of ineligibility, which can be reduced to a minimum of one year depending on the Athlete’s degree of fault (article 10.3.2 WADA Code). However, a reduction in the standard period of ineligibility of two years is not available to athletes where there is a pattern of last-minute whereabouts changes or other conduct that raises suspicion that the athlete was trying to avoid being available for testing.

 

Whereabouts requirements for athletes in team sports

The WADA Code itself does not explicitly refer to whereabouts requirements for athletes in team sports or standard sanctions deriving from team whereabouts failures. The ISTI also does not explicitly detail requirements for teams to file whereabouts requirements for its athletes.

The 2009[10] and 2012[11] versions of the ISTI contained a specific clauses regarding whereabouts information for team sports. However, these clauses were removed for the 2015 version of the ISTI in favour of including less specific references to team whereabouts information in a new Annex I. 

Even though various teams may be required to file team whereabouts information, individual athlete members of a team in sports such as football, cricket or rugby can also be part of a national or international testing pool and are therefore subject to stringent whereabouts requirements in their own capacity as individual athletes.

For such athletes, Article 4.8.2 ISTI states that IFs or NADOs can rely only on information involving Team Activities, which are defined as “Sporting activities carried out by Athletes on a collective basis as part of a team (e.g., training, travelling, tactical sessions) or under the supervision of the team (e.g., treatment by a team doctor)[12] during periods of team activity to establish the whereabouts of athletes included in a registered testing pool. Obviously, an athlete must complete their own whereabouts information when there is no team activity.

However, the filing of team whereabouts information does not absolve an athlete of his or her personal responsibility for a missed test,[13] the comment to article I.6.4, Annex 1, ISTI states that 

if an attempt to test an Athlete during a 60-minute time slot designated within a particular Team Activity period is unsuccessful due to a team official filing the wrong information in relation to the Team Activity, or failing to update previously-filed information where the details of the Team Activity have subsequently changed, the team may be liable for sanction under the applicable rules of the International Federation for such failure, but the Athlete himself/herself will still be liable for a Whereabouts Failure. This must be the case because if an Athlete is able to blame his/her team if he/she is not available for Testing at a location declared by his/her team, then he/she will be able to avoid accountability for his/her whereabouts for Testing. Of course the team has the same interest as the Athlete in ensuring the accuracy of the Whereabouts Filing and avoiding any Whereabouts Failures on the part of the Athlete.

Under the WADA Code, it is clear that an individual athlete cannot rely on a team’s failure to supply the correct whereabouts information and is therefore open to sanction under article 10.3.2 WADA Code, or its equivalent, but may benefit from a reduction of sanction if his or her degree of fault is not considered to be high.

However, as stated above, unlike with individual athletes, there is no standard sanction in the WADA Code for teams that violate the whereabouts filing requirements.

The following sections will look at the particularities of different sports and federations.

 

Football

The FA 

In The FA’s decision, Manchester City was alleged to have “failed to ensure that the Club Whereabouts information was accurate, contrary to Anti-Doping Regulation 14D”.[14] Bournemouth were also fined for acting contrary to Regulation 14D.[15]

Regulation 14D of The FA Anti-Doping Regulations[16] states

  1. All Clubs must furnish The FA upon request with any whereabouts information The FA requires from time to time in respect of any Players who are not IRTP [International Registered Testing Pool] Players or NRTP [National Registered Testing Pool] Players. That information shall include as a minimum:
    1. training dates;
    2. start and finish times of training;
    3. the address at which such training will take place; and
    4. the home address for a Player and any other address at which a Player regularly resides overnight.

  2. The FA (whether through the Anti-Doping Unit or otherwise) may issue directions from time to time about:
    1. the type of whereabouts information to be submitted by Clubs; and/or
    2. the manner and time frame in which such whereabouts information must be submitted.

  3. It shall be a breach of this Regulation 14 for a Club to fail to provide regular details of the times, dates and venues of the Club’s training sessions in the manner directed by The FA.

  4. It shall also be a breach of this Regulation 14 by the Club if the information contained in such reports is either initially inaccurate or has not been updated by the Club as necessary to ensure it remains accurate.

In the aforementioned decision by The FA Regulatory Commission, Man City’s three failures were said to be the following:

  • The FA Anti-Doping team tested the Man City reserve team but upon arrival discovered that six players were absent from training and had been given the day off.

  • The Club failed to notify the FA of an additional training session for the First Team squad.

  • The FA Anti-Doping team attempted to conduct a doping control on a member of the first team at 7am. However, they were informed by hotel staff that the player no longer lived there. The Club had therefore failed to ensure that the home address for that member of the first team squad was accurate.

According to Regulation 13 of the Anti-Doping Regulations, the breach of the Club Whereabouts requirement is not an Anti-Doping Rule violation but is to be considered as Misconduct within the meaning of Rule E.1 of the Rules of The FA.[17] The sanctions for Misconduct are set out in Regulation 8.1 of the Regulations for Football Association Disciplinary Action.[18] Such sanctions are:

  1. a reprimand and/or warning as to future conduct;

  2. a fine;

  3. suspension from all or any specified football activity from a date that the Regulatory Commission shall order, permanently or for a stated period or number of matches;

  4. the closure of a ground permanently or for a stated period;

  5. the playing of a match or matches without spectators being present, and/or at a specific ground;

  6. any order which may be made under the rules and regulations of a Competition in which the Participant Charged participates or is associated, which shall be deemed to include the deduction of points and removal from a Competition at any stage of any Playing Season;

  7. expulsion from a Competition;

  8. expulsion from membership of The Association or an Affiliated Association;

  9. such further or other penalty as it considers appropriate.

Therefore, a wider range of sanctions are available to the FA Regulatory Commission than a standard sanction for athlete for a similar offence.

FIFA 

In addition to the International Registered Testing Pool, which focuses on individual targeted athletes, FIFA has something called an Elite Testing Pool (ETP) and a Pre-Competition Testing Pool (PCTP).[19]

The ETP includes clubs and representative teams participating at an elite Confederation level to be defined by the association concerned. The testing and results management is delegated to the Confederation concerned. PCTP includes the representative teams participating in Competitions, which are selected by FIFA during the two-month preparation phase to participate in the Competition. The relevant teams will be informed of their selection three months prior to the start of the competition.

For the PCTP, each Association is obliged to file FIFA's form regarding whereabouts information for all of the team activity days during the two-month period prior to the designated competition, which includes the name of the team, email address and fax number, Players' consent about sharing their whereabouts, address where team will be residing, competition schedule and dates, times of trainings or individual activity under supervision of team such as medical treatment. 

The association of a representative team in the PCTP will also be responsible for the above-mentioned requirements and, in the case of such a failure, it will be liable for sanction under the FIFA Disciplinary Code, which includes a range of sanctions akin to The FA’s article 8.1. 

UEFA

According to article 6.06 of the UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations (UEFA ADR),[20] UEFA has an out-of-competition testing pool, in which teams and players are required to provide up-to-date whereabouts information and in the case of teams, an up-to-date list of players if requested. The out-of-competition testing pool is defined at the start of each season and/or prior to a specific competition stage (Appendix C, article 1).

Teams included in the UEFA testing pool and who are registered to participate in a UEFA competition are responsible for collecting and forwarding to UEFA the whereabouts information of all its players registered to participate in the UEFA competition.

According to UEFA ADR, there are three team whereabouts violations:

  1. Whereabouts information sent late;

  2. Incomplete or inaccurate whereabouts information;

  3. Absence of one or more players from a doping control conducted on the team.

A whereabouts violation expires in 5 years. But for each violation committed, there is now an escalation process whereby the more failures committed by the club, the stricter the sanctions against the club/players become. For the first submission of late or incomplete whereabouts, a club will receive a letter from the UEFA Anti-Doping Panel informing them that they have committed a first failure and warning them of the consequences of further failures. A second failure will see the case is referred to the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body. At the same time, the club’s players will be target tested both in and out-of-competition. A third failure will be referred to the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body and, as well as being target tested, the club’s players will have to provide partial individual whereabouts. A fourth failure will be referred to the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body. It may also see all the club’s players put into the FIFA International Registered Testing Pool so that they must each provide individual whereabouts.[21]

 

RUGBY

RFU

In domestic rugby union, a club is obliged to provide the RFU, upon request, information about dates, venues and times when training will take place. Clubs in the domestic testing pool are required to submit the above-mentioned information for the purposes of locating domestic players.

If any of the clubs within the domestic testing pool fails to submit training information after receiving formal notice, it shall be fined £1,000 by the RFU. Any subsequent failure shall result in a £2,000 fine. If a club’s squad are unavailable for testing because of the inaccurate club training information, the club will receive formal notice from the RFU to update the training information and also will be liable for the cost incurred by the RFU for the squad no show. Any subsequent squad no show incurred by a club within the domestic testing pool during the current season shall result in a fine of £2,000 by the RFU. 

World Rugby

In international rugby union, World Rugby has developed an Out of Competition Testing programme using a registered testing pool of elite athletes chosen from each Union and are subject to stringent whereabouts requirements (Regulation 21.5.6.11 World Rugby Anti-Doping Regulations).[22]

Whilst there are no explicit requirements, for teams or unions to submit whereabouts information, pursuant to Regulation 21.5.6.15 World Rugby Anti-Doping Regulations, Unions must do their best to assist World Rugby in obtaining and providing updates of whereabouts information as changes occur and/or when requested by World Rugby. Failure to provide timely whereabouts information for players will see the offending Union open to sanction.

 

CRICKET

ICC 

Harmonisation with the WADA code and more precisely with whereabouts requirements was the hardest in cricket, mainly due to the vast number of players from India and Pakistan. Bizarrely, some of these players were primarily against blood testing because of their fear of extravasation, which is the injury caused when blood from a vein pours into surrounding tissue thereby causing a lump of blood at the point of impact of the injection.[23]

With regard to whereabouts requirements, players believed it was an infringement of privacy and personal space, especially during the off-season.

Although, pursuant to article 5.6 WADA Code and Article 14.7 ICC Anti-Doping Code,[24] whereabouts information is treated as strictly confidential, the main concern was availability of their personal information anytime. Some players had also received threats from terrorist organisations in the past and were therefore afraid for their safety. Despite these concerns, WADA demanded that every player without exception must act in compliance with the whereabouts rules.

Under the ICC Anti-Doping Code, there exists an International Registered testing pool but not team filing requirements at the international level.[25] 

ECB

At domestic level, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Anti-Doping Code[26] requires First Class Counties to provide whereabouts information for its First XI squad via ADAMS on a monthly basis (article 12). The failure by a First Class County to submit accurate and timely squad whereabouts information results in the following sanctions:

12.2.1 for a first offence in a season, the First Class County shall receive a written warning from the National Cricket Federation;

12.2.2 for a second offence in the same season, the First Class County shall be fined £500 by the National Cricket Federation; and

12.2.3 any further offences in the same season shall result in a £1000 fine for the First Class County by the National Cricket Federation.

If a squad is unavailable for sample collection due to the provision of inaccurate information, the following sanctions will apply

12.3.1 for a first offence in a season, the First Class County shall be given a formal written warning from National Cricket Federation and shall be liable for any costs incurred by the National Cricket Federation as a result of the squad being unavailable; and

12.3.2 for any subsequent offence during the same season, the First Class County shall be fined £1000 and the First Class County shall be liable for any costs incurred by National Cricket Federation as a result of the squad being unavailable.

Interestingly, contrary to the comment to article I.6.4 ISTI, quoted above, the ECB explicitly does not place liability on the player for failure of the county to provide accurate information:

Cricketers shall not be guilty of a Missed Test or Filing Failure as a result of incorrect information provided by, or any failure to provide information on the part of, the First Class County under this Article 12.

 

Volleyball

In line with the WADA Code, there is no mention of team whereabouts requirements in the anti-doping regulations of the International Volleyball Federation, the FIVB. However, the FIVB chooses 20 National Teams, 10 Men and 10 Women’s teams, participating in FIVB competitions and according to the FIVB National Federations ranking.[27] These National Teams are required to provide whereabouts information, for the year 2017, from 15 May until 15 October. This includes individual whereabouts information in cases where athletes do not participate in team activities, for example, due to injuries or changes within the team.[28]

For failures to file whereabouts information, the FIVB Team Whereabouts Handbook refers to article 5.6.2 of the FIVB Medical and Anti-Doping Regulations[29] and Annex I of the ISTI. There is therefore no set list of sanctions that the FIVB can impose on teams for failures to file whereabouts information.

 

Basketball

Article 5.6.1.1 of the FIBA Internal Regulations governing Anti-Doping[30] states

FIBA may establish other Testing Pool(s) for Athletes not included in the Registered Testing Pool and require such athletes to provide and update, either directly through their club or National Federation, specific whereabouts information requested by FIBA. Failure to comply with FIBA’s requirements, in addition to possible Consequences under these Anti-Doping Rules, may lead to (a) a sanction in accordance with Article 1-129; (b) the Athlete’s inclusion in the Registered Testing Pool.

Thus, in additional to individual Registered Testing Pools of 15 male and 15 female athletes, FIBA has established three Testing Pools including teams.[31] Testing Pools 1 and 3 includes all athletes registered with clubs participating in the highest continental club competition and Testing Pool 2 includes all athletes on the list of National Teams participating in FIBA and FIBA Zone competitions.

Testing Pool 1 Club Teams are required to file team whereabouts information for between 1 January and 30 May. Testing Pool 2 National Teams are required to file team whereabouts information for between 1 May and 30 September. Testing Pool 3 Club Teams are required to file team whereabouts information for between 1 October and 31 December.

The sanctions for failing to comply with FIBA’s requirements, as outlined at article 1-12,9 include a warning, a reprimand, suspension, a fine, a combination of all of these or other sanctions.

 

Comment

Given the number of responsibilities that clubs, teams or associations have regarding the whereabouts information to be provided and the number of players or athletes for whom whereabouts information must be provided, clubs are clearly more susceptible to whereabouts failures than athletes required to submit individual whereabouts information.

The range of sanctions available to commissions or panels sanctioning whereabouts failures are not defined in volleyball but clearly defined in rugby and cricket; teams or counties are subject to fines of no more than £2000. However, in basketball and football the range of sanctions are at the discretion of the relevant disciplinary commission, although a stadium ban in the case of a whereabouts violation in football, for instance, is a highly unlikely sanction for whereabouts failures. If the sanction on an offender is a fine, such amounts are much higher, such as Man City and Bournemouth’s £35,000 fines. However, compared to sanctions for individual whereabouts failures, for which athletes are subject to a minimum of one year ineligibility, sanctions on teams appear to be rather lenient.

 

The author would like to extend thanks to Tijana Zivkovic, International Sports Law Masters Student at the University of Lleida, for her help and input into this article.

 

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Author

Natalie St Cyr Clarke

Natalie St Cyr Clarke

Natalie St Cyr Clarke is Legal Affairs Manager at FIBA (International Basketball Federation) and Co Chair of the Sports Law Subcommittee of the International Bar Association. Natalie is a New York qualified lawyer with numerous years of experience in sports arbitration and dispute resolution, having previously worked for Libra Law in Lausanne, Switzerland.
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