FINA has released changes to its rules that will bring the international governing body for aquatic sports into line with the new World Anti-Code that takes effect in 2021.
Under new World Anti-Doping Code rules, sanctions for use of these substances will be just 3 months when an athlete can prove that the use happened out-of-competition and was unrelated to sport performance. Athletes who undergo a rehabilitation program can see that sanction reduced to 1 month.
Other substances classified under the new program include MDMA (ecstacy) and Heroin.
The list is defined by WADA’s List Expert Group “because they are frequently abused in society outside of the context of sport.”
For some advocates of marijuana legalization, especially, which is the most common of these substances that appears in anti-doping control tests, this will be a step in the right direction, though others will argue that there is not justification for marijuana being a banned substance at all.
- Major Changes to FINA Rules – New WADA Code 2021
- FINA Doping Control Rules 2021 LINK
- FINA Constitution amendments LINK
- FINA By-Laws amendments LINK
- FINA Code of Conduct amendments LINK
- 2021 World Anti-Doping Code LINK
This new guideline aligns with what has been done in practice; for example, Italian swimmer Andrea Vergani was suspended for 3 months in 2019 for a positive test for cannabis. The same was true for Bulgarian swimmer Dinko Geshev in 2012.
According to the hard-line rules of the International Swimming League, these 1 month or 3 month suspensions would still preclude swimmers from participation in that league.
Other major updates to FINA rules to align with the new World-Anti Doping Code include more flexibility for “Protected Persons” and Minors. Under these rules, more flexible sanctioning rules can be applied to “Protected Persons” that includes individuals who, for reasons other than age, have been determined to lack legal capacity under applicable national legislation. Elite 16- and 17-year old athletes are not included in the definition of Protected Persons and would not benefit from the special flexible sanctioning rules.
However, Elite 16- and 17-year old athletes would still, as minors, be excused from mandatory public disclosure.
Other Major Updates:
- All athletes participating at the FINA World Aquatics Championships or the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships will have to complete an online anti-doping education course, ALPHA, prior to participation.
- Rules were updated giving FINA the ability to exclude Member Federations from its Competitions if they are found ‘not to be in compliance with the FINA DC Rules.” FINA says that this will improve fairness toward member federations, and shifts focus from a number of violations of their members within a 12-month period to rules compliance.
- More flexibility in the Multiple Violations sanctioning rules to be more proportionate to the violation and not as dependent on the order in which the two violations occurred.
- Reintroduction of “Aggravating Circumstances” clauses that allow 0-2 years to be added to cases, for example in case of multiple substances or use over a significant period of time.
- The definition of “in-competition” period was reduced and now means the period beginning at 11:59 PM on the day before the event until the end of the event and the sample collection process related to such event. This was designed to bring uniformity between all Signatories, and becomes relevant in which substances are allowed in-competition versus out of competition.