The testing pool is a group of top-ranked athletes, identified by an antidoping organisation, who are especially targeted for doping tests and who are obligated to provide their whereabouts information. The purpose of the testing pool is to ensure that the antidoping organisation is at any given moment aware of the athletes' whereabouts and contact details. This enables effective and precisely timed doping tests without prior notice.
The testing pool system used by FINCIS is based on Finland's Antidoping 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 identified for inclusion in the testing pool by FINCIS and/or by the International Federation of his or her sport. If both of the above-mentioned parties have included an athlete in their testing pools, the organisations will agree amongst themselves on which one will have primary responsibility for handling the athlete's information. Currently, International Federations manage the information on those athletes included in the testing pools of both FINCIS and the International Federation.
The testing pool system in Finland
There is a registered testing pool (RTP) for athletes of individual sports as well as a so-called team pool for team sports in Finland. FINCIS's registered testing pool (RTP) includes athletes who have been identified for the International Federations' registered testing pool, international-level top-ranked athletes and ineligible athletes.
FINCIS's registered testing pool may also include athletes who have been identified for targeted testing as well as athletes who receive support from 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 identified by FINCIS. Teams will be asked to submit whereabouts information only for the whole team (not athlete-specific information). Team whereabouts information is provided by a contact person, who is appointed by the federation in the case of national teams and by the sports club in the case of league-level teams.
Identification of athletes for the testing pool
National antidoping organisations (in Finland, FINCIS) and International 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, of the related obligations and of the consequences of any possible negligence.
National federations are required to cooperate with FINCIS with regard to the establishment and maintenance of FINCIS's testing pools and providing athletes with necessary information. The federations are required to inform FINADA 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 will be included in its testing pools. FINCIS also reserves the right to assign responsibilities related to testing pools to national federations, in accordance with the valid International Standard for Testing.
Rules for providing whereabouts information
Athletes included in the testing pool of an International Federation or national antidoping organisation must report their up-to-date, accurate whereabouts and contact information.
Whereabouts information must be submitted to FINCIS in writing for the forthcoming quarter at the following times:
Period I, 1 January–31 March: report by 15 December
Period II, 1 April–30 June: report by 15 March
Period III, 1 July–30 September: report by 15 June
Period IV, 1 October–31 December: report by 15 September
The athlete must provide the following information:
The athlete must provide a mailing address which can be used by his/her antidoping organisation for official, written communication if the athlete does not comply with the rules for providing whereabouts information. The address may be the athlete's home address or another address. The athlete must ensure that he/she will receive immediate notice of any mail sent to the address provided. All messages sent to the address in question will be deemed to have been received by the athlete five days after they have been sent. If the athlete travels on a regular basis, the address should be that of a person who can receive mail for the athlete and send the information to him or her. This person could be e.g. the athlete's agent or a family member. Sometimes the athlete may have to update the address.
Place of accommodation
When an athlete provides the full address of his or her place of accommodation, the antidoping organisation gets a clear picture of where the athlete will be at the end of the day and the start of the following day. If the athlete provides this information for every day of the quarter, he or she does not have to report whereabouts information for each hour of the day and night.
If the athlete is unsure where he or she will be on a certain day of the quarter, he or she must provide a best guess and update it when his or her plans are finalised or changed.
Competition schedule information helps the athlete's antidoping organisation plan effective out-of-competition testing. In addition, the antidoping organisations (e.g. the national antidoping organisation and the International Federation) are able to better coordinate their testing programmes, which decreases unintentional overlap in testing.
The athlete is required to provide his or her competition schedule for the forthcoming quarter, including the dates, times and locations (names and addresses) where he or she is scheduled to compete. If the athlete is not competing during the quarter in question, he or she must report this information along with the reason for not competing.
An activity is "regular" only if it is done as part of the athlete's set schedule or activities. If, for example, an athlete trains every Friday from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. at a certain location, this is considered a regular activity which must be reported in the whereabouts information. If, on the other hand, the training day varies from week to week depending on the weather or another factor, it does not have to be listed as a regular activity.
If the athlete deviates from his or her schedule at one particular time (due to weather, illness or another reason), the whereabouts information does not need to be updated to reflect the change. However, if there are changes to the regular routine, the athlete must update his or her whereabouts information to reflect the activities.
The athlete is required to provide the name and address of every place where he or she trains, works or carries out other activities during the quarter. The athlete must also provide the times at which he or she usually engages in these regular activities. If the athlete does not have regular activities during this quarter, he or she must report this information along with the reason for the lack of regular activities.
60-minute time slot at a certain location
Antidoping organisations understand that it is unrealistic to demand an athlete's whereabouts information in advance for every hour of every day and expect that the information will not change. Therefore, the 60-minute time slot is the only time of day when the athlete is entirely responsible for his or her whereabouts and there will be serious consequences if he or she cannot be reached for testing at this time. The 60-minute time slot also ensures that the athlete can definitely be reached for testing on any day at a specific time in a specific place.
The athlete must provide one 60-minute time slot between 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. for each day of the quarter, at which time he or she will be available for testing at a specific location. In order to prevent the athlete from receiving an unintentional Whereabouts Failure, it is advised to choose the 60-minute time slot in such a way that the time and place are a part of the athlete's everyday routine, which rarely changes (e.g. the time and place where one wakes up or trains).
If the athlete's plans change so that he or she is not available for testing at the specific location at the specific time, he or she must update his or her whereabouts information prior to that time slot, providing a new time slot and/or location. Although the athlete is not required to provide information about his or her whereabouts for each hour of the day, the doping control officer must be able to reach the athlete during this 60-minute time slot in the location specified by the athlete. If the athlete is not reachable at this time, he or she may receive a note that he or she was unavailable for testing.
When an athlete is travelling, there may be situations during which it is difficult to provide whereabouts information as required. In the event that an athlete is unable to provide a 60-minute time slot at a certain place or provide a place of accommodation due to a long period of travel, he or she must provide information as directed in the ADAMS system.
Updating of contact and whereabouts information
In the event that an athlete does not know his or her precise whereabouts for the following quarter at the time of reporting, the information must be updated to the best extent possible. Whereabouts information can and must be completed as they become confirmed or change. The athlete must ensure that his or her information is always up-to-date and accurate. Changes can still be made for the current day, but the 60-minute time slot at a certain location can no longer be changed once the time slot has begun.
Providing contact and whereabouts information
The tool for providing the information is the ADAMS system maintained by WADA. The athlete receives a username and password for the system either from the International Federation or from FINCIS when the athlete is added to the pool. The ADAMS system is also available in Finnish and has Finnish instructions.
The athlete may request help from his or her coach or agent in order to fulfil the responsibilities related to Whereabouts Filing. The athlete must be aware, however, that he or she is personally responsible for all information provided and for any possible failures to comply with the antidoping code. As with any other possible antidoping rule violation, the athlete cannot make an appeal that he or she had authorised another person to look after a matter on his or her behalf and is therefore not responsible for the negligence of the other person.
The athletes' Whereabouts Filings are maintained in strict confidence. FINCIS reserves the right to release the whereabouts information of athletes in the testing pool to the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA and to other authorised antidoping organisations as stipulated in Finland's Antidoping Code. The whereabouts information is used according to the antidoping Code in order to plan, coordinate and carry out testing. The athlete must be aware that any antidoping organisation that is authorised according to the World Antidoping Code, can test the athlete out-of-competition anywhere and at any time.
Consequences for Filing Whereabouts Failures
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 FINCIS's registered testing pool fails to make a Whereabouts Filing as required, a Filing Failure will be recorded against him or her. The information must therefore be updated immediately if plans change or are confirmed.
If an athlete is not available for testing at the specified location within the specified 60 minute time-slot without an acceptable reason, a Missed Test will be recorded against her/him. If the athlete accumulates three Whereabouts Failures (i.e. Filing Failures and/or Missed Tests) within 12 months, he or she is deemed to have committed an antidoping rule violation as stipulated in the antidoping code. The consequence 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 his or her Whereabouts Failures. The athlete also always has an opportunity to provide a written statement regarding the event.
Termination of the whereabouts filing obligation
If an athlete is removed from the registered testing pool, FINCIS will provide the athlete with written notice of the termination of the obligation to provide information.
If an athlete included in the registered testing pool retires from competitive sport, he or she must inform FINCIS in writing. In this case, FINCIS will remove the athlete from the testing pool and he or she will no longer be obliged to provide whereabouts information. FINCIS will confirm the removal from the testing pool in writing.
Athletes included in the International Federation testing pool must provide written notice of the end of their athletic career to the International Federation as well.
If the athlete decides to return to top-level sport at a later time, he or she must notify FINCIS of the matter six months before his or her first competition. If necessary, FINCIS will reinclude the athlete in the testing pool and he or she will once again be obliged to provide whereabouts information.
FINCIS updates its testing pools on a regular basis. FINCIS reserves the right to remove an athlete from the testing pool at any time it chooses. An athlete who has been removed from the testing pool will always receive written notification of the termination of his or her obligation to provide information. In the event that FINCIS reincludes an athlete in the testing pool, the athlete will be informed of this in writing.