Anti-Doping Rule Violations – Tampering
9 August 2017 by Jason Torrance
The violation of tampering is defined as conduct which undermines the doping control process but which is not otherwise included in the definition of prohibited methods. It includes intentionally interfering or attempting to interfere with a doping control official, giving fraudulent information to an anti-doping organisation and intimidating or attempting to intimidate a potential witness.
A potential tampering violation can be very broad as the definition of “Doping Control” includes all steps and processes from test distribution planning through to the final appeal in any proceedings, and any steps in between. The Code Comment to the violation provides examples of potential breaches, including altering identification numbers of the doping control form and breaking the B bottle before analysing the B sample.
This has not been a particularly common violation in the UK, but there have been examples of athletes who have breached it. The most recent example was when a doping control officer (“DCO”) attended an athlete’s home one evening to conduct a test. The DCO approached the athlete’s house and rang the doorbell multiple times. The athlete’s partner left the house and approached the DCO, returned to the house and presumably informed the athlete, who then accused the DCO of attempting to burgle the house and preceded to act in an aggressive manner towards the DCO and call the police. The test was abandoned as the DCO was in fear of his safety and the police calmed the situation down. The athlete pleaded guilty in court to common assault and was found guilty of tampering by the National Anti-Doping Panel.
Another example of tampering occurred when a team was playing an unregistered player as a “ringer”. A member of the team confirmed the identity of all athletes to the DCO who proceeded to conduct the selection draw. Two athletes were tested, one of whom produced a positive finding. When that athlete was charged, he responded by stating that he had not been playing on the night in question and had not played for some time. Once it had been established that the player who tested positive was not registered and was not the person identified, the person who had lied about the identity of the athlete who tested positive was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation for tampering.
Tampering is not just limited to actions such as the above. If an investigatory interview is conducted on an athlete or athlete support personnel, it is a matter of good practice to advise them that if they do not tell the truth during interview then they may be committing a violation themselves for tampering. Similarly, if a witness were to give evidence in front of, for example, an anti-doping panel, and were found to be lying, they too may have committed a violation for tampering.
The standard sanction for a violation of Article 2.3, as with the presence, use and refusal violations, is now four years. Two central issues should be considered in respect of a tampering violation: the first is whether the conduct of the accused amounts to the doping control process being tampered with; the second is whether there was an intention to tamper with the doping control process. The burden of proof is with the results management authority. If the athlete is found to have tampered with the doping control process but can prove that this was not intentional, the standard four year sanction can be reduced to 2 years.
If you are an athlete or athlete support personnel and require detailed information or advice on this or any other anti-doping issue, please contact Jason Torrance and he will be able to assist.
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