The provisions on doping are included in the World Anti Doping Code and, in French law, in the Code du sport.
The 4th version of the World Anti Doping Code came into force on 1 January 2021. Among the new measures, several aim to strengthen the fight against doping.
France is required to incorporate these measures into French law, in particular through the publication of laws, ordinances and decrees, aimed at ensuring the conformity of French law with the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code.
The law of 23 February 2021 empowering the Government to take the measures within the scope of the law necessary to ensure the conformity of domestic law with the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code and to reinforce the effectiveness of the fight against doping thus came into force at the beginning of the year.
Ordinance no. 2021-488 of 21 April 2021, which implements this law, has just been published. These new measures are integrated into the Sports Code. This Ordinance provides that :
- Decisions taken by a foreign national anti-doping organisation will be applicable in France (and vice versa) as long as the organisation concerned is a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code. No AFLD decision will be necessary for such recognition.
- The sanctions provided for in the context of the fight against doping will be more flexible (upwards or downwards) so that they can be adapted to the alleged offences. For example, a person who has repeatedly violated the anti-doping regulations may be subject to heavier sanctions. Conversely, cases of mitigation are provided for, taking into account the seriousness of the fault of the person prosecuted;
- A new category of prohibited substances, known as "substances of abuse", considered primarily recreational. From now on, provided that the athlete demonstrates that the use occurred out of competition, he or she will incur reduced sanctions in the event of a positive test;
- The AFLD will henceforth have more investigative powers: the possibility of a hearing before initiating disciplinary proceedings, access to professional and sports premises and the use of an assumed identity on the Internet.
- Reinforcement of the independence of anti-doping analyses: the Ordinance specifies the conditions for the transfer of the current AFLD analysis department to the University of Paris-Saclay. This is a requirement of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which imposes total independence of analysis laboratories.
Decrees are to be issued to supplement these new anti-doping rules.
Regardless of the level of sport practised, amateur or professional athletes are responsible for taking the substances detected in their samples.
In the event of medical treatment involving medication containing one or more prohibited substances, the athlete may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption.
Athletes subject to the whereabouts requirement are notified by letter that they are likely to be included in the Registered Testing Pool. From the moment they receive this letter, athletes have 15 days to object. The reasons given by the athletes are examined by the AFLD College. In the event of non-receipt, the athlete receives an official letter informing him/her of his/her inclusion and the related whereabouts obligations as well as his/her identification codes to access the ADAMS software. These same athletes are required to submit their whereabouts information on a quarterly basis.
In the event of a doping control procedure, it is essential to be advised and accompanied from the very first stages of the procedure. Doping controls and the procedure implemented by the AFLD are strictly regulated.
Audrey BRUIN advises professional and amateur athletes and assists them before AFLD, the Conseil d'Etat and the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.