Anti-doping rule violations & disciplinary law
In matters relating to possible anti-doping rule violations, the Legal Affairs department of Doping Authority Netherlands fulfils a role comparable to that of a public prosecutions service: it is responsible for all legal aspects of investigating and handling violations of this kind. If there is a possible anti-doping rule violation, Legal Affairs acts as a ‘public prosecutor’: it decides about settlements, closing cases, the filing of charges, provides evidence, and assesses the case and the appropriate sanction.
In that capacity, the Legal Affairs department of Doping Authority Netherlands is involved in all legal aspects of the investigation of violations, the prosecution of violations, and the disciplinary handling of those violations. The procedures relating to these activities and processes derive from the Dutch National Doping Regulations, the World Anti-Doping Code and the various International Standards associated with that Code.
The legal activities in doping cases usually begin as soon as a test result indicates the possible presence of a prohibited substance or method in an athlete’s blood or urine sample. However, they may also be initiated if there is a suspicion of another anti-doping rule violation, such as a refusal, an attempt to tamper with the doping control, the sample or the tampering (in other words, falsification) of evidence.
If a possible anti-doping rule violation does not result in a settlement or the closing of the case, a charge will be filed. That step is followed by the statement of defence of the athlete or person concerned. Doping Authority Netherlands is entitled to state written arguments in response to a statement of defence. By submitting written arguments, Doping Authority Netherlands states its views on the case and discusses the relevant provisions from the NDR, the defence of the athlete or other persons, the facts and circumstances of the case, and the relevant case law (particularly from the CAS).
After the written decision of the competent disciplinary body has been received, Doping Authority Netherlands reviews it in order to determine whether the decision meets the requirements of the NDR and the Code. This is done on the basis of Doping Authority Netherlands’ remit laid down in the Code, viz. the monitoring and supervision of the correct application of the doping regulations. This remit does not relate to national decisions alone. Decisions made by international sports federations or doping organisations from other countries relating to anti-doping rule violations by Dutch athletes or foreign athletes who play for a Dutch club are also shared with Doping Authority Netherlands so that these decisions can be reviewed in the light of the Code.
For the same reason, Doping Authority Netherlands is required to inform WADA, the relevant international federation and (if applicable) the relevant National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) in another country about all settlements, closed cases and disciplinary decisions, and even therapeutic use exemptions that have been granted. In turn, these organisations have the competence to assess decisions made in the Netherlands in the light of the global Code and to appeal against them.
The legal activities described here are conducted in the context of the testing process, which is defined by the Wuab as the process of determining a possible violation of given doping regulations (in other words, not only the NDR). There are also legal activities that are conducted for the purposes of the testing process, without actually being part of that process, or that are conducted after the completion of the testing process. An example of the first category is informing athletes that a period of ineligibility has been imposed upon a member of their support staff (trainer, coach, doctor, etc.). That is because, in cases of this kind, athletes are not permitted to work with that person. Doing so constitutes an anti-doping rule violation. An example of the latter legal activity is a failure by an athlete or other person to comply with the conditions of a period of ineligibility imposed pursuant to a violation of the National Doping Regulations. If an ineligible athlete participates in an unauthorised activity and/or capacity during the period of ineligibility imposed on him or her, a new period of ineligibility will be imposed that is equal to the original period of ineligibility. This new period of ineligibility may be reduced depending on the degree of fault of the person concerned and the other circumstances of the case. The determination of whether the athlete has failed to comply with the ineligibility sanction, and whether the athlete concerned qualifies for any reduction in the new period of ineligibility, will be made by Doping Authority Netherlands. This decision may be appealed under the provisions of the NDR.
Dutch National Doping Regulations
At the request of WADA, Doping Authority Netherlands has proceeded with the introduction of a new testing pool in addition to the existing Registered Testing Pool (RTP). This testing pool – the National Testing Pool (NTP) – is subject to different whereabouts requirements. Athletes in the NTP have the same whereabouts obligations as RTP athletes, except for the ‘60-minute time slot’. Furthermore, whereabouts failures by these athletes are not an option.
To make the establishment of this NTP possible, the NDR and the Whereabouts Annex associated with the NDR were amended. The NDR was revised in late 2022 to allow for the existence of multiple testing pools under the umbrella of Doping Authority Netherlands and to elaborate the associated obligations and consequences. The NDR has also been amended in a number of other respects, including the rules on making settlements, imposing and terminating provisional suspensions, filing charges and closing doping cases.
Structural activities and operations
Our structural legal activities in 2022 also included the provision of general legal services and support within the organisation. This involved drafting, assessing and/or revising contracts, letters, memoranda and policy memoranda, and regulations, as well as advice for the various departments of Doping Authority Netherlands and the CEO.
In addition, the structural activities in 2022 included education and advice for sports associations and, in various cases, athletes with respect to the content, operation and application of the Doping Regulations.
Open Government Act / Government Information (Public Access) Act
The Dutch Open Government Act (Woo) went into effect on 1 May 2022. It is the successor to the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wob). Doping Authority Netherlands did not receive any Wob or Woo requests for information in 2022.
Objections and appeals under the General Administrative Law Act
One of the consequences of the establishment of Doping Authority Netherlands as an independent administrative body is that, under the Dutch General Administrative Law Act (Awb), interested parties have the right to lodge administrative objections to certain decisions made by Doping Authority Netherlands. If desired, there is also the option of lodging appeals with the administrative court.
In 2022, Doping Authority Netherlands received one appeal under the terms of the Awb against a decision it made. No appeal has been lodged with the administrative courts against the decision of Doping Authority Netherlands relating to this objection.
Policies, rules and regulations associated with the status of an independent administrative body
Several rules and regulations have been revised.