The World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) has recently announced that it has produced a new Prohibited Substance List for 2017. The 2017 List which will be effective from 1st January 2017 can be found here.

Elite athletes have been alerted to the fact that it will be more necessary than ever for them to exercise extreme caution in preparing in advance for the inception of the updated list. Last year we saw Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova fall foul of the 2016 Prohibited List when she tested positive for the recently banned Meldonium. Sharapova’s excuse was that she had been taking Meldonium, which she had known under a different name, since 2006 and had not become aware of its addition to the list of banned substances. She had further suggested that she had placed her agent in charge of her anti-doping duties.

Anti-doping violations are offences carrying strict liability which means that athletes are directly responsible for any substances that are found in their system. There is no requirement for an intention to cheat, meaning that carelessness and ignorance of the rules can easily lead to such violations. It is thus the responsibility of an athlete to ensure that he or she is up to date with the recent rule changes and lists of prohibited substances.

Following the much-publicised Sharapova doping violation, The International Tennis Federation (“ITF”) has warned tennis players that they will not be successful in overturning doping violations by merely pleading ignorance. There was commentary in some quarters that Sharapova was unlucky on the basis that she had tested positive for Meldonium less than a month after it had been banned.

The Sharapova case and the release of the new Prohibited Substance List for 2017 serve as further evidence to elite athletes that they must be more careful than ever in terms of what substances and supplements they are taking both in everyday life and to assist their training and competing requirements. It is always advisable for an athlete to verify on the Wada, Global DRO and Informed Sport databases as to whether a substance is indeed safe before taking it.

Here at Farleys Solicitors we have a dedicated team of sports lawyers who have experience in dealing with doping offences in sport and other legal issues that may stem from this. We deal with professionals across a number of different sports on a daily basis. If you feel you have been affected by any of the above issues then do not hesitate to contact us today to speak to one of our solicitors who will be able to advise you on the legal implications of any doping related issue.