CYK Sports anti-doping update: inadvertent ingestion of prohibited substances

CYK, together with Rick Liddell QC and Melody Ihuoma of 4 New Square, acted for an elite level athlete who had tested positive for a banned substance, and as a result was investigated by UK Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) for a potential breach of the Anti-Doping Rules.

UKAD was ultimately persuaded that it would not further the objectives of the UK Anti-Doping Policy or otherwise be in the interests of justice to treat the Adverse Analytical Finding as an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (“ADRV”) and, on that basis, decided not to charge the athlete with an ADRV.

The athlete denied taking any banned substances, and was unable to provide a categorical explanation for how it came to show as present in their system. The most likely explanation, which was put forward on behalf of the athlete (and corroborated by expert and witness evidence), was that the athlete’s partner had taken the banned substance in question (pursuant to a medical prescription) and that it was transmitted to the athlete either through the exchange of saliva, while kissing, or whilst helping their partner to administer the prescription and subsequently preparing food (thereby causing inadvertent ingestion of the substance).  It was further noted that no doping explanation could be provided by the experts for the presence of the adverse finding in the athlete’s sample.

ADRV charges under rules 2.1 and 2.2 of the Anti-Doping Rules operate on a strict liability basis (i.e. the mere fact of the presence of the substance in the athlete’s urine sample is sufficient for a charge to be made out, even if they did not come into contact with the substance intentionally or knowingly).  Ordinarily in these circumstances, therefore, UKAD would look to charge the athlete with an ADRV and then deal with the question of intent under rule 10.2 and the degree of fault (if any) under rules 10.4 and 10.5.  The decision not to charge the athlete was therefore an exceptional one, which UKAD made clear turned on its own unique facts.

For more details, please contact Jake Calvert ( and +44 (0)7741 639 334), Liam McNeely ( and +44 (0)7879 018 014) or any other member of the CYK Sports team: