USA Swimming Sends Out Reminder Communication About WADA’s New “Association” Rules

Effective January 1, 2015, a new version of the World Anti-Doping Code went into affect, that among other things has stiffened the maximum penalties for violation of doping rules.

See a summary of the changes here.

One specific portion of the code was concerning enough to USA Swimming president Jim Sheehan that he emailed the organization’s entire membership to clarify the procedures. That part was the “Prohibited Association” clause, that prohibits athletes from associating with coaches, trainers, etc., who are either currently sanctioned or have been criminally convicted of doping violations.

Read the email sent out by Sheehan below.

TO:                 USA Swimming Members                    

FROM:            Jim Sheehan, USA Swimming President

TOPIC:            Prohibited Association

DATE:             February 20, 2015


On behalf of USA Swimming, I want to make you aware of a new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rule called Prohibited Association that went into effect on January 1, 2015.  This rule prohibits athletes from associating with coaches, trainers, physicians or other Athlete Support Personnel who are currently sanctioned for and/or criminally convicted of doping.  Examples outlined in the WADA Code of “association” include assisting athletes with training, nutrition or medical advice, and/or serving as an agent or representative of the athlete, regardless of whether the Athlete Support Person receives compensation for such services.

Importantly, in order for this provision to apply, it is necessary that the athlete has previously been advised in writing by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), an international federation (FINA), or WADA of the Athlete Support Personnel’s disqualifying status and the potential consequence of the prohibited association. This written notification procedure is incorporated into the rule to ensure that an athlete can reasonably avoid this prohibited association.  The purpose of this rule is to ensure that coaches and Athlete Support Personnel who have been found to have committed anti-doping rule violations do not attempt to engage with athletes while serving a suspension or ban.

This memorandum is intended to inform you of the new rule.  USADA is responsible for enforcing the rule and will be in communication with you if it believes that you may be in violation of the rule.  Violations of this Prohibited Association rule may result in a suspension of an athlete for up to two years, according to the newWADA Code.

If you have any questions about this component of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, please contact USADA (Tel:  877-752-9253) or USA Swimming.  You can find a link to the new 2015 WADA Code here.

Finally, I’d like to remind all athlete-members of USA Swimming that they are subject to FINA’s and USADA’s doping control rules, and may be tested at any time, either in competition or out-of-competition.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

cc: USA Swimming Board of Directors, Chuck Wielgus


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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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