The testing pool is a group of top-ranked athletes, determined by an anti-doping organisation, on whom doping control efforts are particularly targeted and who are obligated to provide their whereabouts information. The purpose of the testing pool is to ensure that the anti-doping organisation has access to the up-to-date information about the contact details and whereabouts of the top athletes’ included in the pool. This enables effective and precisely timed doping control procedures without prior notice.
The testing pool system used by FINCIS is based on Finland’s Anti-Doping Code, which complies with the requirements specified in the World Anti-Doping Code and WADA’s International Standard for Testing and Investigations.
An athlete may be included in a testing pool by FINCIS and/or by the International Federation of their sport. If both of the parties specified above have included an athlete in their testing pools, the organisations must agree between themselves on which will have primary responsibility for handling the athlete’s information. International sports federations are currently responsible for managing the information on the athletes included in the testing pools of both FINCIS and the international sports federation.
The testing pool system in Finland
In Finland, there is a Registered Testing Pool for individual athletes as well as a team pool for team sports.
FINCIS’ Registered Testing Pool (RTP) includes athletes who have been selected in the registered testing pools of international sports federations, international-level top-ranked athletes and suspended athletes. FINCIS’ Registered Testing Pool may also include athletes who have been identified for target tests as well as athletes who are financially supported by the Olympic Committee or the Ministry of Education and Culture.
For team sports, the testing pool includes national teams and top-level teams of certain sports designated by FINCIS. Teams will only be asked to submit the whereabouts information of the whole team (not athlete-specific information). The team’s whereabouts information is provided by a contact person who is appointed either by the sports federation in the case of national teams or, in the case of league clubs, by the sports club.
Selection of athletes for the testing pool
National anti-doping organisations (in Finland, FINCIS) and international sports federations publish the criteria for identifying athletes for inclusion in their testing pools. FINCIS always informs athletes personally in writing of their inclusion in a testing pool, the related obligations and the consequences of any possible negligence.
National sports organisations are required to cooperate with FINCIS with regard to the establishment and maintenance of FINCIS’ testing pools and providing athletes with necessary information. They are required to inform FINCIS of any athletes who meet the criteria for inclusion in the testing pool and to provide FINCIS with their contact information. FINCIS reviews and updates its testing pools on a regular basis. FINCIS reserves the right to decide which athletes are to be included in its testing pools. FINCIS also reserves the right to assign responsibilities related to testing pools to national sports federations in accordance with the valid International Standard for Testing and Investigations.
Rules for providing whereabouts information
Athletes included in the testing pool of an International Sports Federation or national anti-doping organisation must submit their up-to-date, accurate whereabouts information and contact details. The information must be submitted on quarterly basis and the athletes have the possibility of updating their information during a period.
The information is submitted in the ADAMS system managed by WADA. Athletes are provided with a username and password for the system either by the International Federation or FINCIS if they are selected for the testing pool. The ADAMS system is available in Finnish and it has instructions in Finnish. The system can be accessed with a browser or a mobile application, and the information can be updated with text messages.
The athlete may request help from their coach or agent in order to fulfil the responsibilities related to the Whereabouts Filing. The athlete must be aware, however, that they are personally responsible for all information provided and for any possible failures to comply with the anti-doping code.
Confidentiality and disclosure of information
The athletes’ Whereabouts Filings are processed confidentially. However, FINCIS reserves the right to disclose the whereabouts information of the athletes in the testing pool to the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA and to other authorised anti-doping organisations specified in Finland’s Anti-Doping Code. The athletes’ whereabouts information is used according to the anti-doping code in order to plan, coordinate and carry out testing. The athlete must be aware that any anti-doping organisation that is authorised according to the World Anti-Doping Code can test the athlete out-of-competition anywhere and at any time.
Consequences for Negligence
It is extremely important for athletes included in a testing pool to ensure they have submitted their Whereabouts Filings as instructed and that the information is accurate. If an athlete included in FINADA’s registered testing pool fails to make a Whereabouts Filing as required without reasonable grounds or the information is proven to be inaccurate, a filing failure will be recorded against them, leading to a whereabouts failure as specified in the Anti-Doping Code.
If an athlete is not available for testing at the specified daily testing location within the specified 60-minute time-slot without an acceptable reason, a missed test will be recorded against them, leading to a whereabouts failure as specified in the Anti-Doping Code.
If the athlete commits three failures to comply with whereabouts regulations (i.e. filing failures and/or missed tests) within 12 months, they are deemed to have committed an anti-doping rule violation as specified in the anti-doping code. The sanction for such a violation is a period of ineligibility of 12–24 months (for the first violation) or more (for a second violation or multiple violations).
An athlete will always receive a written notice of their Whereabouts Failures. In all cases, the athlete an opportunity to provide a written statement regarding the event.
Termination of the whereabouts reporting obligation
If an athlete is removed from the registered testing pool, FINCIS will provide the athlete with a written notice of the termination of their obligation to report their whereabouts.
If an athlete included in the registered testing pool retires from competitive sports, they must inform FINCIS in writing. In this case, FINCIS will remove the athlete from the testing pool and they are no longer obliged to provide their whereabouts information. FINCIS will confirm the athlete’s removal from the testing pool in writing.
If the athlete decides to return to top-level sports at a later time, they must notify FINCIS of the matter six months before their first entry in a competition. If necessary, FINCIS will reinclude the athlete in the testing pool and they will once again be obliged to provide their whereabouts information.