Under the Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP), a sanction is imposed once an anti-doping rule violation has been determined, either when an athlete admits to a violation and waives the right to a hearing, or by an independent arbitrator after a doping tribunal hearing.

All sanctions imposed under the CADP are logged in the Canadian Sport Sanction Registry and posted on the CCES website.

Because the CADP is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, sanctions imposed in Canada are consistent with those of the Code.

Period of ineligibility

The most common penalty for an anti-doping rule violation is a sanction imposing a period of ineligibility to participate in sport. This includes ineligibility for:

  • Participation in any role in organized sport, such as a competitor, coach, athlete support person or instructor.
  • Participation in any competition or activity authorized or organized by sport organizations who have adopted the CADP, or their affiliates or members.
  • Participation in any level of sport: local, provincial, national and even international if the activities and events are organized by sport organizations who have adopted the CADP, or their affiliates or members.
  • Participation in any sport, not only the sport engaged in by an athlete at the time of the violation, but every other competitive sport as well if that sport is governed and organized by sport organizations who have adopted the CADP, or their affiliates or members.

Length of sanction

The CADP sets out mandatory sanctions for certain violations and certain prohibited substances, then provides for a large degree of flexibility to decrease or increase the sanction depending on the unique facts of each case and the results of evidence-based tests.

Examples of mandatory sanctions (and their CADP rule reference) include:

  • First violation for presence, use or possession: either two or four years (10.2);
  • First violation for non-intentional presence of specified substances: two years (10.2.2);
  • First violation for trafficking or administration: four years to life (10.3.3); and
  • Whereabouts violation: one to two years (10.3.2).

However, the sanction imposed in a given case can vary, influenced by factors such as:

  • Whether it involved intentional conduct;
  • Whether it is a first or a subsequent violation;
  • Whether substantial assistance was provided;
  • The early admission of the violation;
  • Whether the substance was a specified substance or a contaminated product;
  • The prohibited substance detected (if any); and
  • The athlete proving “no fault” or “no significant fault”.

Commencement of the sanction period

Sanctions generally begin on the date that an arbitrator determines that a violation has been committed, or on the date that an athlete signs a waiver accepting the asserted violation and waiving the right to a hearing. This date may be mitigated by any period of provisional suspension voluntarily accepted by the athlete or imposed on the athlete by a duly authorized third party. A prompt admission of the violation may permit the sanction that is eventually imposed to start at an earlier date.

Other potential consequences

In addition to a period of ineligibility, there may be other consequences of committing an anti-doping rule violation. Such additional consequences can be determined by other parties with jurisdiction, such as Sport Canada, the national or provincial sport organization, or a student-athlete’s academic institution. These may include:

  • Automatic disqualification of individual results, including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes;
  • Disqualification of results in the event during which a violation occurs;
  • Disqualification of results in competitions subsequent to the initial test sample;
  • Loss of privileges at a college or university;
  • Financial sanctions;
  • Public disclosure through a media release; and
  • Loss of federal or provincial funding.

Thus, even when an athlete may successfully demonstrate that it is appropriate to eliminate or reduce the mandated period of ineligibility, the fact of the anti-doping rule violation (which is not eliminated) may well have other consequences with a life-altering impact.