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New version of the World Anti Doping Code on 1 January 2021

The law 2021-194 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, has been published.

This law allows the Government to take, within a period of 6 months and "by way of ordinance, all measures falling within the scope of the law in the fight against doping in order to ensure that domestic law complies with the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code applicable as of 1 January 2021, to define the new status of the anti-doping laboratory and to reinforce the effectiveness of the anti-doping system by facilitating the collection of information by the French Anti Doping Agency and cooperation between those involved in the fight against doping, in compliance with the constitutional and conventional principles in force in the Republic."

The purpose of this text is to bring French law into line with the principles laid down by the World Anti-Doping Code.

There are several new features, in particular new categories of prohibited substances subject to a special regime (e.g. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cocaine): for this category of substances, the World Anti-Doping Code provides that if the athlete can establish that the use occurred out-of-competition and unrelated to sporting performance, the period of ineligibility is reduced to three months, or even one month if the athlete is undergoing a substance abuse treatment programme.

The new version of the World Anti-Doping Code also includes a new offence to punish those who threaten or seek to intimidate those who, in good faith, have sought to report another anti-doping rule violation. The penalty is a period of ineligibility of at least two years, but may extend to lifetime ineligibility. The seriousness of the alleged violation determines the duration of the sanction.

Although most doping is voluntary, some athletes may test positive in spite of themselves. It should be remembered that some over-the-counter medicines, such as Ibuprofen, contain doping substances. Some substances remain in the body for several hours, days or weeks.

It is therefore important to pay attention to the content of the list of products prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Maître BRUIN assists and represents athletes before the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the context of doping-related disputes.