The FINA Sports Medicine Web Pages are designed to provide team physicians and allied medical support staff with up to date medical and scientific information to guide their daily care of the aquatic athlete.

Coaches, athletes and parents can also use these pages to answer their questions regarding aquatic health issues.

FINA Soprts Medicine Committee

Sports Medicine Congress

What’s new in 2009 ?

In April 2008, FINA was the first International Federation to adopt new anti-doping rules based on the new WADA Anti-doping Code which came into effect on January 1, 2009. There are significant changes to the FINA’s anti-doping program represented in these new rules. It is important that all medical personnel, sports administrators, coaches and athletes understand the new anti-doping policies and procedures. This article will review the basis for the rule changes, new developments in the Prohibited List and Therapeutic Use Exemptions, as well as reviewing the expansion in anti-doping rule violations and sanctions.

Whether you are an athlete, coach, team physician or sports administrator, it is imperative that you are aware of the current rules and regulations governing doping in sport. January 1, 2009 saw the institution of new changes to the FINA’s anti-doping program. These anti-doping rules are based on the new WADA Code which was adopted at the 3rd World Anti-doping Conference held in Madrid in 2008 after an extensive consultative process with members of the sporting community. This new Code ensures a more vigorous approach to the fight against doping and a more harmonised and fair approach for all athletes around the world.


FINA’s anti-doping rules seek to preserve the values of sport. These values are known as the ‘spirit of sport’ or ‘Olympism’. These values provide the fundamental rationale and ethical framework for the development of FINA’s anti-doping rules. The values are as follows:

- Ethics, fair play and honesty
- Health
- Excellence in performance
- Character and education
- Fun and joy
- Teamwork
- Dedication and commitment
- Respect for rules and laws
- Respect for self and other Participants
- Courage
- Community and solidarity
- Doping is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of sport

Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV)

An anti-doping rule violation was historically called a ‘doping infraction’. All sport participants share the responsibility to know what constitutes an anti-doping rule violation. FINA’s rules outline the various types of anti-doping rule violations that can occur:

- Presence of a Prohibited Substance in body
- Use or attempted use
- Evading or refusing to submit to testing
- Failure to provide whereabouts / Missed Tests
- Tampering with the anti-doping process
- Possession of Prohibited Substances
- Trafficking

Prohibited List 2009

The WADA Prohibited List is the International Standard from WADA that lists all of the Substances and Methods that are prohibited for all athletes in all sports. The Prohibited List is updated yearly based on a review of the latest scientific evidence and after consultation with the sporting community. The main change to the Prohibited List 2009 is the separation of Substances and Methods into two categories: Specified and Non-specified.

FINA’s anti-doping rules seek to preserve the values of sport

Specified substances are all substances on the Prohibited List except for anabolic agents, hormones, specific stimulants and Methods. These particular agents are considered to be more serious and thus are treated differently when it comes to sanctioning of anti-doping rule violations for these substances or methods.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE)

Permission to use Prohibited Substances can be obtained for those athletes with legitimate health conditions that require the use of Prohibited Substances. As in the past, athletes who compete at FINA events should apply to FINA at least 21 days prior to the event for their TUE.

An important change in the FINA TUE program is the special requirements for asthma. All athletes in the FINA’s Registered Testing Pool or who compete at FINA events are required to apply to FINA for a TUE for their inhaled asthma medication (Beta 2 agonist). To apply, you will need a medical file including a history and physical examination and a breathing test to support the asthma diagnosis.

Another important change is the TUE requirements for non-systemic gluco-corticosteroids (peri-articular  /  intra-articular  /  peritendinous  /   epidural  /  intradermal    /   inhaled) . A Declaration of Use must be completed for the use of these substances. For systemic use (oral, intravenous or rectal) a regular TUE is still required. All other gluco-corticosteroids (skin, eye, ear) are not prohibited. These TUE application forms (TUE, Asthma TUE, Declaration of Use) can be found on the anti-doping pages of the FINA website.

Whereabouts:  Registered Testing Pool

FINA has a Registered Testing Pool of elite athletes in each discipline who are designated by FINA from predetermined set criteria. Athletes in the Registered Testing Pool will be notified quarterly by FINA. These athletes are required to submit there ‘whereabouts’ information to FINA. They are subject to out of competition testing.

An important change to this program in 2009 is the institution of the one-hour window of availability. Although an athlete can be tested anywhere at any time, it is only considered a ‘missed test’ for sanctioning purposes if the athlete is not available at the specified location during this one-hour pre-stated time period between 0600 and 2300h.

Athletes can find ‘whereabouts’ forms on the anti-doping pages of the FINA website. In 2009, it became possible for athletes in the Registered Testing Pool to submit their whereabouts via the ADAMs electronic software.

An athlete can be sanctioned for 1-2 years if there are three episodes of either missed tests or failure to file whereabouts information during a period of 18 months.

Testing Procedures

January 1, 2009 saw the institution of WADA’s new International Standard for Testing. There are a few changes in this document that athletes, coaches, team docs and managers should be aware of.

In particular, the athlete is now required to provide at minimum 90 ml of urine for the test as opposed to 75ml in the past. The pH of the sample is no longer measured. The specific gravity of the sample is still measured and an athlete will be required to continue to provide samples until an adequate specific gravity is reached. The doping control form will now have an area dedicated on the form for the name of the athlete’s physician and coach.

Results Management & Sanctions

Significant changes have come into effect to the management of positive cases (anti-doping rule violations). These changes reflect greater fairness and flexibility. The athlete can be provisionally suspended after the A sample test while waiting for the results of the analysis of the B sample. The Results Management process has also been streamlined which will result in more efficient processing of cases.

Sanctioning anti-doping rule violations has significantly changed with the institution in the ability to increase (see Table #1) or decrease (see Table #2) the length of the sanction depending on the circumstances around a case. The new rules take into account the severity of the circumstances around the case which is reflected in the sanctioning process. For example, the athlete who is part of a large organised doping scheme is sanctioned more severely than the athlete who can prove that he/she is at ‘no significant fault’ from inadvertently testing positive from a supplement. There now exists incentives for the athlete to assist and cooperate in the fight against doping. All results for the athlete will be disqualified at that event. Finally, significant financial sanctions can be imposed on the athlete for an anti-doping rule violation including forfeiting all prize money, the removal of financial support during the sanction, further monetary sanctions and potential financial consequences for his/her Member Federation.

Table #1
Aggravating circumstances (increased sanction)


Table #2
Mitigating Circumstances:  Decreased Sanction

NF or NSF = no fault, or no significant fault

Special Considerations:  Teams

For diving teams, synchro teams and relay teams, an anti-doping rule violation will result in disqualification of the team from the FINA event.

For a water polo team with more than one anti-doping rule violation (other than for a specified substance) the sanction will include the disqualification of all matches at the tournament and target testing of the team at the expense of the Member Federation.

The new FINA anti-doping rules provide the opportunity for FINA to be even tougher in the fight against doping

Sanctions to Member Federations

The new FINA anti-doping rules place greater responsibility on the Member Federations in the fight against doping. If Member Federations are not cooperative with the FINA anti-doping rules, or are found to be guilty of supporting organised systemic doping of athletes, sanctions can occur against the Member Federation. Coaches are now also held responsible in the fight against doping. Coaches who have three or more athletes with anti-doping rule violations will be sanctioned. The following is a list of potential sanctions against Member Federations:

Potential Sanctions for Member Federations

Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV)


4 ADRV in 12 months
(not specified substances)

24 month suspension

ADRV in athlete

Member Federation to pay for laboratory and travel costs

No assistance with athlete whereabouts

$1 000 per athlete

Member Federation involved with Trafficking

Denied FINA membership x8 years

Coach with 3> athletes with ADRV

Coach denied accreditation at FINA events for 8 years

After 01-01-2010, host countries must sign UNESCO anti-doping laws

FINA can deny hosting event in countries who are not UNESCO compliant

Non-compliance of Member Federation with FINA anti-doping rules

With-holding of FINA funding


The new FINA anti-doping rules provide the opportunity for FINA to be even tougher in the fight against doping. One of the most important features of these new rules is the ability to be more flexible in the sanctioning process. There is also opportunity for greater collaboration with government officials and more responsibility placed on the Member Federations. Athletes, team physicians and coaches should be aware of the changes to the International Standards for Testing and for Therapeutic Use Exemptions outlined in this article to ensure that athletes are not caught unaware by the new requirements. Likewise, the mandatory one hour window per day change to athlete’s whereabouts requirements is important for those athletes in FINA’s Registered Testing Pool. 

All athletes, coaches and sport officials together can promote drug-free sport

Being familiar and compliant with FINA’s anti-doping rules will result in a stronger fight against doping and will ensure a fair playing field for our aquatic athletes. All athletes, coaches and sport officials together can promote drug-free sport through respecting these rules and speaking-out against doping in sport.

Key Points


New Change

Prohibited List

Specified substances
IV clarification

Therapeutic Use exemptions

Asthma TUE
Declaration of Use: corticosteroids

Whereabouts / Registered Testing Pool

1 hour window of availability for
Missed test

Testing Procedures

90 ml
New form
Only specific gravity tested

Results Management

Provisional suspension after A sample
Streamlined procedures


Greater flexibility:
Aggravating & Mitigating Circumstances


Specific considerations for
water polo teams, synchro & relays

Sanctions for National Federations

More responsibility to Member Federations
(see chart above)

*Dr. Margo Mountjoy is the Chairman of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee. She is a sports physician in Canada. She is the team physician for Synchro Canada and consultant to the Aquatics Federation of Canada. She is a member of the WADA Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee, Vice-Chair of Canada’s Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee and a member of the IOC Medical Commission.


I am a water polo player on insulin treatment for diabetes. I have 3 questions about my use of insulin as a FINA athlete.

1) What are the criteria that FINA uses for granting a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)?

The FINA DCRB evaluates each application for a TUE by applying the criteria outlined in the WADA International Standard for TUE. The criteria are:

- The athlete would experience significant health problems without taking the prohibited substance or method;

- The therapeutic use of the substance would produce no additional enhancement of performance other than that which might be anticipated by a return to a state of normal health following the treatment of a legitimate medical condition; and

- There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise prohibited substance or method.

2) What should I do if I am notified for doping control while using a prohibited substance under a granted TUE?

When filling out the doping control form, make sure that you declare the substance or medication being used and that you specify that a TUE has been granted. If you have easy access to a copy of the TUE Approval form, it is preferable but not mandatory that you show it to the doping control official.

3) What will happen if the prohibited substance is detected during the analysis?

When the doping control authority receives the report from the laboratory, an initial review will take place to verify that the TUE is still in effect and that the results of the analysis are consistent with the TUE granted (nature of substance, route of administration, dose, time frame of administration, etc.). If the review proves satisfactory, the result of your test will be recorded as negative.

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Coaches Info Website

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