October 27, 2021
CrossFit Games Drug Testing 101
By Joe Genetin-Pilawa
The basics behind CrossFit's Drug Testing Policy and recommendations to avoid inadvertently failing a drug test.
The basics behind CrossFit's Drug Testing Policy and recommendations to avoid inadvertently failing a drug test.

The Basics

In an effort to create a level playing field for the world’s definitive test of fitness, CrossFit monitors athletes to ensure no one competing has used banned, performance-enhancing substances. CrossFit carries out the CrossFit Drug Testing Policy in partnership with Drug Free Sport International, an organization that “administers comprehensive drug testing programs; manages national and international collections; develops drug testing policies; and provides educational services to a wide range of colleges, universities and amateur athletics organizations around the world.” 

Athletes, as a condition of participation in any CrossFit Games event, agree to undergo drug testing. Refusal to consent to or comply with the policy prohibits any athlete from participating.

Athlete drug testing occurs both in and out of competition and can be directed (i.e., requested of a specific athlete) or random. All collections and testing under the policy is observed, meaning witnessed by the doping control officer. Active athletes can be selected for inclusion in CrossFit’s “Registered Athlete Testing Pool” and are then required to provide up-to-date contact and whereabouts information every quarter of the year. If an athlete is traveling and would be unable to respond to a drug testing collection agent within 12 hours at their declared address, they are required to alert CrossFit. Even when an athlete receives a sanction for a failed test, they are required to remain in the testing pool throughout their sanction if they intend to return to competition afterwards.

Athlete samples (urine and/or blood) are tested at laboratories approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and tested according to WADA guidelines. In terms of reporting, Drug Free Sport reports drug test results to CrossFit and CrossFit alerts an athlete of a failed test. CrossFit announces all violations of the drug testing policy publically and can do so even if an appeal of the violation is in process.

Staying Clean

The “Dietary Supplements” section of the Drug Testing Policy states, “Athletes are solely responsible for what they put on or into their bodies” and recommends athletes research supplements and performance-enhancing aids before using them.

A 2001 study by the International Olympic Committee found nearly 15 percent of supplements in their test sample contained substances that would cause an athlete to fail a drug test — and many of these banned substances were not listed on the label. 

To avoid inadvertently failing a drug test under the CrossFit Games Drug Testing policy, athletes should properly source any and all supplements or prescribed drugs. If an athlete chooses to use nutritional supplements in training, it’s best to use those that have been vetted by a third party, such as the NSF International Certified for Sport program, Informed Sport, and the Banned Substances Control Group (BCSG)’s Certified Drug Free® program.

Of course, the safest way for an athlete to ensure they will not fail a drug test is to avoid supplements and performance-enhancing drugs altogether.

Violating the Drug Testing Policy

An athlete will be deemed to be in violation of the drug testing policy in the following cases:

  • Positive drug test result (i.e., presence of a prohibited substance, its metabolites, or markers in an athlete’s sample).

  • Substitution, tampering, manipulation, or other adulteration of a sample, as determined by a collection agent or laboratory.

  • Use, attempted use, or possession of a prohibited substance.

  • Use or attempted use of a prohibited method.

  • Evading, refusing, or failing to submit to a drug test.

  • Whereabouts violations:

    • Athlete fails to submit quarterly whereabouts information.

    • Athlete fails to update their whereabouts information as required.

    • Athlete provides whereabouts information that is incomplete or inaccurate and does not allow for the athlete to be reasonably located for the purpose of drug testing.

    • Athlete misses test for any reason.

  • Trafficking of attempted trafficking of any prohibited substance or prohibited method.  

Any athlete who violates the drug testing policy will be subject to sanctions. A standard sanction is a four-year ban from competition. Possible sanctions can also include any combination of the following:

  • Disqualification from the competition and loss of results.

  • Loss of results from previous competitions.

  • Forfeiture of any prizes, awards, and money.

  • Suspension from participation in future CrossFit Games events (May include a lifetime ban).

  • Public disclosure.

Importantly, CrossFit uses Drug Free Sport for all testing, domestically and internationally, but may recognize drug policy violations from other organizations, including the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Of course, athletes have the right to appeal a failed test. Within 72 hours of being notified of a failed test, athletes can request to have their “B” sample (a second sample taken at the same time as the original, to protect against false positive test results) tested and can request all pertinent documents related to their failed test. From the time athletes receive their documents from CrossFit, they have 10 days to submit a written petition of appeal.

Here’s a list of all athletes currently serving sanctions due to violations of the CrossFit Drug Testing Policy.

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