US Anti-Doping

Frequently Asked Questions


What role does USABA play in the testing process?

USABA is fully committed to ensuring doping has no place in sport. USADA works with USABA, as well as all National Governing Bodies, in its anti-doping efforts. 

Why are age group athletes being tested?

USADA is fully committed to protecting the rights of clean athletes, and just as the temptations and pressures to cheat don't stop with elite athletes, the right to compete on a fair and level playing field shouldn't stop with elite athletes either. Athletes of all levels should have the reassurance that they do not need to cheat in order to compete and succeed in their sport. USADA continuously works to protect these rights and works closely with USABA to understand where the potential for cheating exists.

What substances are being tested for?

As the national anti-doping agency in the United States, mandated to implement the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code in this country, USADA tests for the substances and methods found on the WADA Prohibited List. The full list can be found here. Testing at competitions could include special analysis such as for EPO, CIR, hGH, HBT, etc.

What are the steps in the testing process?

USADA's "What is Drug Testing?" video, found here, offers an in-depth look at what an athlete can expect during an out-of-competition, no-notice drug test. While the video does not depict an in-competition test, the sample collection process will be the same. The athlete pocket guide also provides a step-by-step guide to the testing process and can be downloaded here.

Who will be doing the testing?

USADA doping control officers (DCOs) will conduct all testing. As USADA Staff, DCOs conduct both In-Competition and Out-of-Competition testing of athletes involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Movement within the United States.

For Athletes

How are athletes chosen for in-competition testing?

USADA works with USABA to develop a plan for testing, which can often include specific place finishers as well as random selections from the field. So, just as an example, that plan may be the top finishers in given categories, and then places such as 10th, 12th, 15th , 18th, 25th, 42nd, 87th, etc. All athletes, however, should understand that they are subject to testing.

How do I know that I am not taking a banned substance?

Athletes can check the status of their medications by visiting the Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) database. The site allows athletes, coaches, parents or anyone else to search for a substance, by an ingredient, or its generic or brand name. USADA also maintains a drug reference phone line that allows athletes to connect with an expert regarding their medication. Keep in mind that neither resource provides information on nutritional supplements. For more information visit

Can taking a nutritional supplement trigger a positive test?

Unfortunately, due to the lack of regulation present in today's nutritional supplement marketplace, including the existence of unscrupulous, rogue supplement manufactures, USADA is unable to provide direction or guidance as to which nutritional supplements are safe, and which contain prohibited substances. USADA is currently working with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, USOC and other national sports and health organizations to eliminate this uncertainty in the marketplace. The effort, called "Supplement Safety Now" includes media outreach and grassroots mobilization. USADA is also in the process of launching an online portal specifically dedicated to the questions and issues surrounding supplements.

What is a Therapeutic Use Exemption and when can I apply for one?

A Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) allows an athlete with a legitimate medical need for an otherwise banned substance to use that substance with approval. USADA is here to help athletes who have questions about the TUE Process. Athletes should begin here by determining if a TUE is needed for their specific competition level. If it is determined that a TUE is needed, this section of USADA's website will also explain how athletes can apply for a TUE.

To determine the status of a substance, athletes can access Global Drug Reference Online ( or the USADA drug reference line ((800) 233-0393).

What happens if I refuse testing? 

Failure or refusal to submit to doping control constitutes an anti-doping rules violation and will result in a two-year sanction including loss of results. Athletes should fully understand the consequences of an anti-doping rules violation before refusing to submit to doping control. For more information, review the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing. This document is available on the USADA website here.

What happens if I test positive?

The process for what happens after a positive test is outlined in the USADA Protocol or Olympic and Paralympics Movement Testing. This document is available on the USADA website here.

Is there an appeal process to protest a positive test?

Yes. In accordance with the WADA Code athletes are given a full and fair process to appeal anti-doping rules violations. The USADA results management process is outlined in the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing. This document is available on the USADA website here.

For Coaches

How can I educate my athletes about testing?

The Anti-Doping Education page on, offer a wealth of information on drug testing. 

How might testing affect my athletes on race day?

USADA carefully considers the well-being of all athletes it tests and is sensitive to the effects testing can have on an athlete. USADA plans accordingly to minimize any effects on the competition.

USADA's Athlete Resources

USADA's Athlete Section

USADA's website offers a page specifically dedicated to athletes. The site features information on prohibited substances; information on the World Anti-Doping (WADA) code; as well as quick links and resources to help you better understand the sample collection process. Navigate to to get started.

USADA's Drug Reference Line

USADA's Drug Reference Line has been established to provide athletes, or anyone else for that matter, a personal resource to understanding prohibited substances based on the WADA Prohibited List. A pharmacist is available to answer questions athletes may have about the status of a substance, whether a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) is needed, and how that process can be started or carried out. The resource is available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST. The number is (800) 233-0393 within the United States and (719) 785-2020 if calling from outside the country.

Global DRO

The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) is an extensive, web-based database, which USADA – and now with the partnership of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) – offers free to athletes, coaches, parents, medical professionals and administrators at any level.  The site,, allows users to search for an ingredient, drug or brand name to determine if the substance is prohibited in-competition, out-of-competition or both, or by which methods (e.g. injection, ingestion, inhalation). The resource even breaks down banned substances by sport, for those substances, which are prohibited in certain sports but not others.


For those athletes interested in learning more about anti-doping resources, USADA's website also offers a wide range of brochures, pocket guides, videos and other literature to get up to speed on topics including nutrition, dietary supplements, prohibited substances and testing protocols. These resources are located in the Web site's "For Athletes" and "Resources" sections.

"What is Drug Testing?" Video

For those interested in seeing what a drug test is all about, and what is part of an Olympic or Paralympic level athlete's responsibilities, the "What is Drug Testing?" video is the easiest resource for learning about the sample collection process – While focusing on no-notice, out-of-competition tests, the video also discusses in-competition testing, the kind most age-groupers would ever face.  

Therapeutic Use Exemptions

Athletes who demonstrate the medical need for substances or methods that are otherwise banned in sport have the opportunity to go through the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process. USADA provides straightforward and clear instructions on how to complete the TUE process, by providing information on: how to determine if a particular substance requires a TUE (including a break down based on competition level); how to apply for a TUE if its determined that the athlete indeed needs one; and how to submit and complete the TUE application process. Again, is the best place to begin.