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UEFA issues new Anti-Doping Regulations

UEFA’s firm commitment to fighting doping in European football takes another important step forward with the latest edition of the UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations .


The 2021 edition of the regulations, which came into force on 1 January, applies to all aspects of UEFA’s comprehensive anti-doping programme, including in- and out-of-competition testing, and has been updated in line with the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) to ensure that anti-doping rules are harmonised for all sports in all countries worldwide.

Some of the key changes to the regulations allow for greater flexibility in the sanctioning process for anti-doping rule violations (ADRV), and new provisions have been introduced to protect whistle-blowers.

The term ‘Aggravating Circumstances’ has been added to the regulations to describe special or exceptional circumstances for which an additional period of ineligibility of up to two years can be imposed. These circumstances can include, for example, the use of multiple prohibited substances, engaging in obstructive conduct or tampering in results management.

‘Substances of Abuse’ is another new definition that permits flexibility as far as sanctions are concerned. This term encompasses those substances that are frequently abused in society outside of the context of sport - for example, cannabis and cocaine.

Shorter bans are possible if the player can establish that the “substance of abuse” concerned was used during an out-of-competition period in a context unrelated to sports performance, and bans can be further reduced to one month if the player completes a rehabilitation programme. This reflects the fact that players who take these kinds of substances might have wider issues with addiction or drug misuse, and this reduction in the sanction is designed to encourage players to seek the help they need.

Whistle-blowers are crucial in helping to uncover doping in sport. Consequently, in order to protect potential whistle-blowers, the regulations have also introduced a new ADRV which makes it an offence to either discourage someone from reporting information, or to retaliate against an individual for sharing information. This new violation can lead to a lifetime ban from sport.

WADA Prohibited List 2021

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has issued a new list of prohibited substances and methods which, like the new UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations, also came into force on 1 January 2021.

The WADA Prohibited List outlines the substances and methods prohibited in sport, and is reviewed annually in consultation with scientific, medical and anti-doping experts to ensure that it reflects current medical and scientific evidence and doping practices. Some substances, such as anabolic agents and diuretics, are prohibited at all times, while others, such as glucocorticoids and stimulants, are only prohibited during an ‘in-competition’ period.

For a substance or method to be added to the List, two of the following three criteria must be met:

• the substance or method enhances, or has the potential to enhance sport performance;

• it represents an actual or potential health risk to the athletes;

• it violates the spirit of sport.

It should also be noted that, for players who have a legitimate medical reason for using a prohibited substance or method that appears on the List, they may be accommodated if they meet the criteria outlined in the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE).

In addition, it is important to mention that the use of nutritional/dietary supplements can be risky, given that many of them can be contaminated with a prohibited substance which may trigger a failed doping test.

For further information regarding the list, please refer to the document Summary of modifications which lists all of the changes.

The amendments to the new regulations and the 2021 Prohibited List are explained in full in UEFA’s circular letter 92/2020, which was sent in December to all national associations, as well as to clubs currently participating in UEFA competitions.