07 Mar 2016

Guide to the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme

News Article

Tennis Anti-Doping Programme

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) is a unified set of rules that is administered and enforced by the ITF on behalf of the governing bodies of professional tennis (i.e. the ITF, ATP, WTA and the four Grand Slams). The TADP is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), which is the rules established by the global anti-doping umbrella organisation, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This means that the TADP contains all of the mandatory rules of the Code.

The Code also requires all signatories to adhere to a set of WADA International Standards, one of which is the List of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods (List). Thus, all substance contained on the List are also prohibited under the TADP.

Sample collection and analysis

A key part of the TADP is the detection of doping through the collection and analysis of samples. In 2015, a total of 4,433 samples were collected under the TADP. Of these, 2,514 were collected from men, and 1,919 were collected from women. A total of 2,256 were collected during tennis tournaments (known as ‘In-Competition’ samples) and 2,177 at other times (‘Out-of-Competition’ samples). Of the total, 2,431 were urine samples and 2,002 were blood samples.

Doping Control Officers are trained to collect anti-doping samples in accordance with WADA International Standards. All urine samples are split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ parts. Both parts are transported to a laboratory accredited by WADA (of which there are 33 around the world) for analysis. Analysis procedures are governed by a WADA International Standard. Only the ‘A’ sample is analysed in the first instance.

Results management

If a sample is found to contain a substance on the List, the documents pertaining to the collection, storage, transport and analysis of that sample are sent to an Independent Review Board, who assess whether the required procedures were followed at each stage. If so, then the Review Board will determine that the player who provided the sample has a case to answer.

Once it has been determined that there is a case to answer, the player is notified that they are being charged with a violation of the anti-doping rules. This notification sets out the alleged breach of the rules, the potential consequences if the charge is upheld, the player’s options to admit or deny the charge, the right to have the ‘B’ sample analysed and (where relevant) notice that a provisional suspension will be imposed, specifying the date on which it begins.

If the player exercises his/her right to have the ‘B’ sample analysed, then he/she may attend that analysis. If the analysis confirms the finding of a prohibited substance in the ‘A’ sample, then the case proceeds as charged. If the ‘B’ sample does not confirm the ‘A’ sample, then the whole test is considered negative, proceedings are discontinued and no further action is taken against the player. If a player waives his/her right to have the ‘B’ sample analysed, then he/she is deemed to have accepted the finding of a prohibited substance in the ‘A’ sample and the case proceeds as charged.


Once a notice of charge has been sent, an Independent Tribunal is established that will hear the case (or, with the agreement of the parties, a Chairman sitting alone). Tribunals normally consist of a barrister as Chairman, with medical and scientific experts as the other two members. A briefing schedule, in which evidence is submitted by both parties, is agreed. A hearing is held before the tribunal in which both parties may call and cross-examine witnesses. Once the hearing is concluded, the tribunal retires to consider its decision. Decisions are normally issued around two weeks after the hearing.

Violations and sanctions

All decisions that a violation of the rules has been committed are published on the ITF Anti-Doping website. Sanctions for each of the ten possible violations are set out in the TADP at Article 10. (The TADP can be found here). Players, the player’s National Anti-Doping Agency, the ITF and WADA all have a right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against decisions issued by the Independent Tribunal. Decisions issued by CAS are final and binding on all parties.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions

Tennis players, like any member of the population, may develop medical conditions that affect their health. In recognition of this, players may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). A TUE grants a player permission (subject to meeting certain conditions) to use a prohibited substance for therapeutic reasons to treat a legitimate medical condition, and to return the player to a normal state of health. Around fifty TUEs are granted under the TADP each year.