Anti-doping – what club rowers need to know

As a member of British Rowing (BR) or a BR-affiliated club like Cantabs, then British Rowing’s Anti-Doping Rules apply to you, regardless of your age, level of participation, or whether you are competing or coaching.

The fundamental anti-doping principle of strict liability means that rowers are responsible for their conduct, the decisions they make and for any banned substance they use, attempt to use, or that is found in their system, regardless of how it got there and whether or not they had an intention to cheat. It is therefore important that all rowers conduct themselves within the rules and make informed decisions to ensure they train and race clean. Whilst rowers training and competing at national and international level are tested regularly, any club rower could be tested, whether in competition or training.

What do I need to do?

Know your medications: Before taking any medication (whether from a doctor or bought over the counter) you must check it for banned substances. Medications sold in the United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Australia and Japan can be checked online at Global DRO (note that medications bought in one country may contain different ingredients to the same branded medication in another country). If you need to use a banned substance or method to treat a genuine medical condition, and there are no reasonable alternatives, you may need to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Rowers competing at a National or International level need to apply for a TUE as a matter of course; athletes competing at lower levels should apply for a TUE after they have been tested and a banned substance detected.

Know the risk with using nutritional supplements: You are strongly advised to be very cautious if you choose to take any supplement such as vitamin tablets, energy drinks, or sport-nutrition formulas. This is because there is no guarantee that any supplement is free from banned substances. Visit the UKAD website for further advice including information on the Informed-Sport programme and case studies of athletes who have been caught out.

Understand what happens in a test (also known as Doping Control): You should feel prepared in case you notified that you are to be tested. If you are selected for testing, you should take a representative with you so they can support you. If you are under 18 then the representative must be over 18. The Doping Control Officer will be of the same sex as you and will ask to have a clear and unobstructed view of the passing of urine. Therefore they will ask you to remove any clothing that obstructs that view. If you are under 18s or have a disability you can request modifications to the testing process. More details on the testing process are available at UKAD.

Know where to look for support and advice: See British Rowing’s Anti-Doping guidance, which includes links to further information and contact details that may be helpful if you have further questions. The 100% me section of UK Anti-Doping provides information about anti-doping for athletes of all levels, or you can download the free “100% me” app (iOS/Andriod) from iTunes or Google Play.