Athletes

Advice specifically for athletes.

Anti-Doping cases

Athletes are usually only involved in anti-doping cases when it is alleged they have committed an anti-doping violation. This is usually when laboratory analysis of an athlete’s urine sample shows the presence of a drug or other substance that is prohibited in sport.

The substances that are prohibited in sport are published each year by the World Anti- Doping Authority (WADA) in the WADA Prohibited List. The Prohibited List can be viewed at the websites of WADA and Drug Free Sport New Zealand. Further information about prohibited substances can also be found on Drug Free Sport’s website as well as the Sports Anti-Doping Rules (based on the WADA Code) which set out the various rules governing anti-doping violations in New Zealand.

Anti-doping proceedings are brought to the Tribunal against an athlete by Drug Free Sport New Zealand when they consider that there is sufficient information or evidence that an anti-doping violation has taken place. For example, this may be on the basis of an athlete returning a positive drug test result or refusing to provide a sample for drug testing. Proceedings may also be brought on the basis of evidence supporting other alleged anti-doping violations such as use, attempted use, possession or trafficking of prohibited substances.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand essentially acts as the “prosecutor” in anti-doping cases in New Zealand.

The athlete’s NSO is automatically joined as an interested party to the anti-doping proceedings.

The role of the Sports Tribunal is essentially to be the anti-doping “court”. The Tribunal decides whether an anti-doping violation has been committed (if the athlete denies he or she committed a violation) and if so, decides the appropriate penalty for the violation.

Anti-doping proceedings are usually referred to the Tribunal in two stages requiring two types of hearings and decisions.

1. Provisional Suspension Application

If an athlete returns an adverse finding (such as testing positive to a prohibited substance), there will usually be an application to the Tribunal to have a preliminary hearing to have the athlete provisionally suspended. The Tribunal usually hears provisional suspension applications urgently. If the Tribunal makes a provisional suspension order, this means the athlete is prohibited in participating in sport until the Tribunal can hear the alleged anti-doping matter and make a final decision.

2. Application for Anti-Doping Rule Violation Proceedings (substantive case)

Following the provisional suspension proceedings, Drug Free Sport usually reviews all the evidence (the athlete may have requested a B sample test and the test results may not have been received until after the provisional suspension proceedings) and decides whether to refer the alleged anti-doping violation (‘substantive’ case) to the Tribunal or not to proceed further.

If after receiving and hearing the substantive case, the Tribunal decides the athlete has committed an anti-doping violation and imposes a period of suspension, the amount of time the athlete has been provsionally suspended will usually be "credited" (ie taken off) the period of suspension the Tribunal imposes. For example, if the Tribunal thinks the approriate penalty is four months' suspension and the athlete has already been provisionally suspended for one month, the Tribunal would usually impose three months' suspension.

See Anti-Doping rule violation procedures for further information and the steps involved in the process.

Penalties for Anti-Doping Violations

Penalties for anti-doping violations are set out in the Sports Anti-Doping Rules and are the same as those set out in the WADA Code. The most common penalty is a period of ineligibility (that is, suspension), which prevents an athlete participating in any capacity in sports that are signatories to the WADA Code. This generally means the athlete will not be permitted to compete, train with a team, coach or otherwise participate in most sports (not just their own sport) during the time they are suspended.

Penalties may vary, depending on the type of prohibited substance involved or the type of anti-doping violation.

Appeals against decisions of NSOs or the NZOC

An athlete may be able to bring an appeal against a decision of an NSO or the NZOC to the Sports Tribunal. NSOs in New Zealand usually provide for a right of appeal to the Sports Tribunal in their Rules against some types of decisions. The most common types of appeal that an NSO will provide for are:

  • appeals against decisions not nominating or selecting athletes for a New Zealand team or squad and
  • appeals against disciplinary decisions.

However, an NSO can choose to provide for an appeal to the Tribunal against any type of decision it feels appropriate.

The crucial thing is that the NSO has provided in their rules for an appeal to the Sports Tribunal against the type of decision that the athlete wishes to appeal. If the NSO has not done that, then the athlete can only appeal the decision to the Tribunal with the agreement of the NSO.

The NZOC will usually set out the process for an athlete who wishes to appeal against non-selection for the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games in the agreements between the NZOC and relevant NSOs regarding application, nomination and selection process for the applicable Games.

Before an athlete can appeal a decision of the NSO or the NZOC to the Tribunal there are four necessary conditions that must be satisfied:

  • Constitution, rules or regulations of the NSO or NZOC must provide that there is a right of appeal to the Tribunal against those sorts of decisions.
  • All internal appeal rights and procedures within NSO/NZOC have been completed first.
  • Appeals to the Tribunal must be made within time limit set out in NSO’s or NZOC’s rules or, if not set out, within 28 days.
  • The grounds for the appeal must fall within any appeal grounds set out in the NSO’s or NZOC’s rules or, if none are set out, within the default grounds of appeal set out in the Tribunal’s rules.

If the above conditions are not met, then the Tribunal can only hear the matter if the NSO agrees to this.

There is a $500 filing fee to appeal a decision of an NSO or the NZOC to the Sports Tribunal.

See Disputes types and process for further information and the steps involved in the process.

Sports-related disputes referred by agreement

Where a dispute is not an anti-doping proceeding or an appeal proceeding, a dispute may still be able to be referred to the Sports Tribunal. However, before the Tribunal can hear such a dispute:

  • All parties to the dispute have to agree in writing to refer the dispute to the Tribunal.
  • The dispute has to be “sports-related” (if there is an issue over whether a dispute is “sports-related”, the Tribunal will decide).
  • The Tribunal must agree to hear the dispute.
  • Each party pays a filing fee of $250.

This can apply to athletes in several ways.

  • If an athlete wants to appeal a decision or resolve a dispute with their NSO, which does not fall within the rules of the NSO, the Tribunal can hear and decide the matter if the NSO agrees to this. The Tribunal is also able to provide mediation services to help the athlete and NSO to reach agreement. This can be an efficient and cost effective way of resolving a dispute not covered by the NSO’s rules. However, the NSO has to agree to the matter going to the Tribunal.
  • If the athlete has a sports related dispute with an organisation or a person, the Tribunal may be able to assist in settling the matter or helping the parties come to an agreement. This could apply to a number of different situations, eg: a dispute with a sports organisation that is not an NSO or in interpreting sports related contracts. As the cost of referring such cases to the Tribunal is $250 per party, the Tribunal’s assistance is likely to be much cheaper for the parties than if they use private arbitrators or mediators.

See Disputes types and process for further information and the steps involved in the process.