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How Drug Testing Works



The drug testing procedure is a process used to check athletes of almost any age or ability for the presence of prohibited substances in their bodies. It will be carried out by trained and authorised doping control personnel who will have to show their official identification when they first approach an athlete and before commencing testing.

How the Process Works

The testing process will be carried out in a set way:

Athletes are randomly chosen or targeted for testing. They are notified and asked to provide a urine or blood sample for analysis.

Sample Collection:
Athletes go to a designated testing location where trained personnel collect their urine or blood sample. The collection process is
constantly supervised to ensure integrity.

Sample Analysis:
The collected samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis. Highly specialised technicians use advanced techniques to test for the presence of banned substances or their metabolites.

Laboratory Analysis:
The samples undergo thorough analysis using methods such as chromatography and mass spectrometry to detect even trace amounts of prohibited substances.

Results and Reporting:
Once the analysis is complete, the laboratory provides the results to the relevant anti-doping organisation. The results are then reported to the athlete and their respective sports governing body.

Follow-up Actions:
Depending on the test results, further actions may be taken. If the athlete tests positive for a banned substance, they may face sanctions, such as suspensions, disqualifications, or other penalties.


Know What to Expect

If you are starting to compete at a higher level, ensure you understand how the testing process works. Importantly, understand what will happen during the sample collection process before you are approached for your first test, as some can find this a stressful and confusing experience.

We recommend you read UKAD's testing process page or watch their video to fully understand what to expect. 

Understand that tests will always be unannounced… it could happen to any athlete at any time.

Ensure you know your rights, especially regarding your right to have a representative present during the entire process. For more information, read WADA's athlete's anti-doping rights page. 


For Athletes Under 18

If an athlete is under 18, they are considered a minor and will be subject to a modified process that requires an athlete representative to be present at all times, as described on the UKAD testing process for minors page.


Expert Guidance


Take Home Points

  • Become familiar with the testing process and make sure you understand it before you face your first test. 

  • Know that testing can happen at any competition, training session, or at home… without warning.

  • You are entitled to have a representative present during the entire process, for example, a team manager or parent.

  • If you are under 18, an adult representative must be present throughout the entire process.

Last updated 9 Oct 2023.


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