The BMC and Anti-Doping

Posted by Zoe Spriggins on 05/01/2021

All athletes have the right to compete in sport knowing that they, and their competitors, are clean.

The BMC believes in clean competition climbing and works in partnership with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and our International Federation to ensure that the integrity of our sport is protected.

The use of performance-enhancing drugs and other doping behaviour severely damages the legitimacy of sport and undermines the integrity of clean athletes.

Anti-doping rules

The anti-doping rules for the BMC are consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code, which governs anti-doping internationally. The anti-doping rules of the BMC are the UK Anti-Doping Rules, published by UK Anti-Doping, and amended from time to time: 

If you are a member of the BMC then the anti-doping rules apply to you, regardless of what level of climbing you participate at.

Anti-doping: the Big Picture

There are many organisations that work hard to protect sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is responsible for leading the collaborative world-wide campaign for clean sport. Established in 1999 as an independent agency and funded by both sport and governments, it manages the development of the World Anti-Doping Code. The Code aims to harmonise all anti-doping policies, ensuring that athletes and athlete support personnel are treated fairly and consistently.

The aims of the Anti- Doping Code and WADA are to:

  • Protect the Athletes’ fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport and thus promote health, fairness and equality for Athletes worldwide, and
  • Ensure harmonised, coordinated and effective anti-doping programmes at the international and national level with regard to detection, deterrence and prevention of doping

The BMC works in partnership with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to prevent doping.  

UKAD is the national anti-doping agency for the UK, dedicated to protecting a culture of clean sport – it achieves this through implementing education and testing programmes, gathering and developing intelligence, and prosecuting those found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violations.

UKAD is responsible for ensuring sports bodies in the UK are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code through the implementation and management of the UK’s National Anti-Doping Policy.

Under the 2021 Code, an athlete may be classified as being “International-Level”, “National-Level” or a “Recreational Athlete” based on their competition level. Further information on these different categories is available on the UKAD website.

100% me - Supporting Athletes to be Clean

100% me is UK Anti-Doping’s education programme for athletes – designed to provide information resources, education sessions and general advice to athletes throughout their sporting careers.

  •  Find out more in the dedicated Athlete Zone of the UKAD website

What is Strict Liability?

All athletes need to be aware of the principle of strict liability. This means that all athletes are solely responsible for any banned substance they use, attempt to use, or that is found in their system, regardless of how it got there and whether or not they had an intention to cheat. It is crucial that athletes check all medications are safe to take prior to use.

Athletes must undertake thorough internet research of any supplement products before use – including the name of the product and the ingredients/substances listed. Information discovered as a result should be further investigated and we advise athletes to keep evidence of their search.

What are the Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs)?

The Code outlines eleven ADRVs. Athletes and athlete support personnel (ASP) may receive a ban from sport if any of the following ADRVs are committed: 

  1. Returning a positive test
  2. Using, or attempting to use, a banned substance or method
  3. Refusal or failure to provide a sample when requested
  4. Tampering, or attempting to tamper, with any part of the testing process
  5. Possession of a banned substance or method
  6. Trafficking, or attempted trafficking, of any banned substance or method
  7. Administering, or attempted administering, of a banned substance or method to an athlete; or encouragement, aiding and/or covering up of any involvement in an ADRV
  8. Receiving any combination of three filing failures and/or missed tests in a time period of 12 months (for athletes who are part of the National Registered Testing Pool)
  9. Complicity 
  10. Prohibited Association
  11. Acts by an Athlete or Other Person to Discourage or Retaliate Against Reporting to Authorities

 All eleven ADRVs apply to athletes. Only the ADRVs in bold apply to ASP.

Consequences are significant

Under the Code, a minimum four-year ban from all sport will apply to those who are found to be deliberately cheating and breaking the rules. The Code has little sympathy for carelessness – for inadvertent doping, athletes are more likely to face a two-year ban from sport.

All athletes, coaches and athlete support personnel need to make sure they have sufficient anti-doping knowledge to avoid committing an ADRV and receiving a ban from sport.


Managing inadvertent doping risks

The Prohibited List

All banned substances and methods in Code-compliant sports are outlined in the Prohibited List, which is updated at the beginning of every calendar year, but may also be updated throughout the year. 


Understand the importance of checking medications

Before taking any medication (whether from a doctor or bought over the counter) athletes must check to make sure it does not contain any banned substances. Medications can be checked online at Global DRO. It is important to note that medications bought in one country may contain different ingredients to the same branded medication in another country.


Know the risks with nutritional supplements

Athletes are strongly advised to be very cautious if they choose to take any supplement such as vitamin tablets, energy drinks or sport-nutrition formulas. This is because there is no guarantee that any supplement is free from banned substances. 


All athletes are advised to:

  • assess the need to use supplements by seeking advice from a medical professional or nutritionist on their need to use supplement products 
  • assess the risks associated with supplements and undertake thorough research of all supplement products they are considering taking
  • assess the consequences to their careers – they could receive a four-year ban

before making a decision to use supplements.

 Visit the UKAD website for further information including the Informed Sport programme, which provides a batch-testing service for supplement products.


Apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)

Athletes can obtain approval to use a prescribed banned substance or method for the treatment of a legitimate medical condition by applying for a TUE. They must be able to provide medical evidence to confirm their diagnosis and prescription, and reference that there are no reasonable alternative medications.

  • International-level athletes (as defined by their International Federation) need to apply to their International Federation for a TUE
  • Athletes competing at National level need to apply to UKAD for a TUE

TUEs approved by UKAD, unless stated otherwise, are valid at national level only. If an athlete is competing at international events, a UKAD TUE will not be valid unless it is first recognized by the relevant International Federation or Major Event Organisation. Athletes should notify the relevant body of this as soon as possible prior to competing.

Athletes listed under the ‘National’ category for their sport must apply for their TUE in advance. The ‘National’ category for TUEs is defined by UKAD by sport and can be found on UKAD’s website. Only in an emergency situation or where there will be a severe impact on health should treatment begin without the necessary approval. Athletes not listed in the ‘National’ category would only need to apply for a TUE retroactively should they be tested and their sample return an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF).

Help keep sport clean

We all have a responsibility to report doping in sport and help keep it clean. A 24-hour dedicated phone line, hosted by Crimestoppers, is ready to take your call if you have any suspicions or concerns about incidences of doping in sport. You can provide information in complete confidence by calling 08000 32 23 32 or via a secure website. All information is passed securely to UKAD’s intelligence unit for investigation. 


Support, useful advice and resources

Please do not hesitate to ask questions about the anti-doping rules. As well as asking The BMC (, coaches and athlete support personnel, you may also contact UKAD directly, who will be able to answer any questions and provide guidance. Further information and resources include:


100% me elite athlete Clean Sport App for smartphones

  • For essential anti-doping information download the Clean Sport App from iTunes, Google Play or Windows Live Store – the sport specific or the generic version.  

Check your medications on Global DRO

  • Remember to check all medications on Global DRO where you can search by ingredients or brand name.

Assess the risk of supplements on Informed Sport

  • You can find information on supplements and ways of reducing the risks on Informed Sport

Register with UK Anti-Doping

  • Visit UKAD’s website and register to keep up to date with the latest news. 

For more information from UKAD:

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Anonymous User
Good article!! Have you found many coaches doing the UKAD course to become a UKAD accredited anti-doping advisor? Might be worth mentioning in this article as it's a free course for coaches, a pretty good CPD certificate to work towards.
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