Anti-Doping & Integrity
At the RFL we want to ensure that all players in this country, at all levels, have the support they need to perform to the very best of their ability.
The RFL is committed to and works closely with UKAD (UK Anti-Doping) to achieve and champion Clean Sport across both the professional and the community game.
All sports, including Rugby League, are governed by the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA), and every participant is subject to the Rugby Football Leagues Anti-Doping Rules. The RFL adopts the UK Anti-Doping Rules pursuant to its Operational Rules.
The RFL condemns doping as it is harmful to the core values of the sport and is damaging to player’s health and wellbeing. In addition, the fairness, reputation and integrity of the competition is affected. The RFL recognises that participants have a right to compete on a level playing field in a doping free environment.
In order to protect the game against doping, the RFL works closely with UKAD and other relevant organisations in order to provide education, gather intelligence, administer results management, and carry out regular testing.
It is the responsibility of all participants to promote anti-doping in Rugby League. If you are aware that a participant is doping, you can report this confidentially here.
We want to ensure that all players can make well informed and positive decisions so they can say with pride ‘That was one hundred per cent me’. The anti-doping information on these pages is for players and their support personnel at all levels of our game.
The RFL has in place a set of anti-doping rules that all athletes and athlete support personnel must abide by. The anti-doping rules for the RFL are consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code), the core document that harmonises anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sport globally. The anti-doping rules of the RFL are the rules published by UK Anti-Doping (or its successor), as amended from time to time. If you are involved in rugby league then the anti-doping rules apply to you, regardless of what level you participate at. You can find the UK Anti-Doping Rules here or via the RFL Operational Rules.
All sports, including Rugby League, are governed by a set of anti-doping rules called the World Anti-Doping Code. It aims to harmonise the rules and regulations governing anti-doping for all participants, in all sports, throughout the world. RFL Anti-Doping Regulations comply with the code.
There are 11 Anti-Doping Rule Violations:
For more information please click here.
For Tiers 1 -3 go to section D3
For Tiers 4 – 6 go to section F5
Players must declare their retirement from the sport to the RFL to ensure that is recorded that player is no longer participating.
Should an individual return to the Sport at a later date, at any level (Professional, Elite Performance, Community) in whichever format (Running game, touch, wheelchair, masters PDRL etc.) the processed registration with signify that they are no longer in retirement and is an active participant once more and Subject to the Operational Rules. The player or Club does not need to notify anyone of their resumption within the Sport, their registration will be the sole indicator of their return. If a player intends to rely upon their retirement as a reason for non-compliance to RFL Operational Rules, they must retain evidence of the notification to the RFL.
Professional and Community players should inform the RFL to ensure their retirement is logged on the registration system. Community Players should email: email@example.com and Professional Players: Peter.Stephenson@rfl.co.uk
Community Players who do not follow this process will remain on the registration system as active for the remainder of the current season. Players who cease to be active within competition but remain on a Clubs register will still hold an active registration and still be subject to the Operational Rules including Anti-Doping Rules and the Betting Code.
If Players do not register for the current season, they will automatically be deemed to not be a registered player. However, this is not classed as retirement from the sport.
The RFL is proud to support UKAD’s 100% Me athlete education programme. When it comes to competing, we want all players to be able to say: “It’s 100% me.”
As player it is your responsibility to compete cleanly and fairly. Under the World Anti-Doping Code and RFL Anti-Doping Regulations you are ultimately responsible for any prohibited substance found in your system. This is referred to as strict liability. The absence of a manufacturer’s warning or a guarantee about the safety of a product does not reduce the seriousness of the doping offence.
Ellery Hanley MBE
“I achieved a great many things as a Rugby League player but I am just as proud of the things I didn’t do during my time with at Bradford, Wigan, Leeds, Balmain, Western Suburbs, Yorkshire, England and Great Britain – I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink and I didn’t take drugs.
“Looking back on my career, it is a source of immense personal satisfaction that everything I achieved was as a result of my hard work and determination.
“All the highs from Championship successes, Challenge Cup wins, Test match victories and individual awards came not from chemicals, corner cutting or cheating but from commitment, application and being true to myself and my body. I can truly say it was 100%me.
“Don’t put yourself in the position of being branded a cheat, or risk bringing disgrace on your family and your own reputation. Be clean. Be true to yourself and your sport. Be 100%me!”
The 100% me clean sport app give players clear and concise anti-doping advice and information. It’s also a useful place to keep a log of any medication or supplements. You can download this via iTunes or Google Play.
More information on this and guidance can be found in the document below.
Some players take supplements in the belief that it will help maintain their health and improve their performance...
...However, it is now generally accepted that any player who is liable to be tested in or out of competition may be at risk of a positive drug test from the use of supplements.
An estimated quarter of the dietary supplements on sale to players may contain small amounts of prohibited substances, commonly including anabolic androgenic steroids and stimulants. These quantities have been found to cause positive drug tests, leading to players and athletes being banned from sport.
The manufacture, distribution and promotion of dietary supplements are covered by a variety of regulations that relate mainly to their safety for the general public – not professional athletes who are subject to stringent anti-doping regulations.
The RFL cannot guarantee that supplements, including vitamins and minerals, ergogenic aids and herbal remedies, are free from prohibited substances. We strongly advise players to assess the need to use supplements and to consider the risks associated with them, including the potential consequences of a ban.
Assess the need
Players should look to optimise diet, lifestyle and training before considering supplements. But your lifestyle, training and game demands may not give you enough time to be able to ingest what you need to meet your nutritional needs. Sometimes you may need to use legal supplements. Before doing so, you should consult an accredited sports dietician and/or registered nutritionist, and a sports and exercise medicine doctor.
Do not take chances with supplements. You need to know that:
- no Prohibited Substance has been introduced as a by-product of any part of the manufacturing process; and that
- the product (including the raw ingredients) has been manufactured, packaged and distributed in such a way that minimises the risk of a contamination.
Assess the Risk
- Avoid purchasing supplements from a manufacturer who also produces supplements that contain Prohibited Substances
- Understand why some supplements could contain Prohibited Substances as contaminants
- Understand what supplement testing for Prohibited Substances is. Look for supplements that are produced by companies which batch test their products
- Seek expert guidance to assess your dietary and performance needs and supplement requirements (registered nutritionist or accredited sports dietician)
Assess the Consequences
Remember strict liability. Players must be aware that any positive test as a result of supplement use will lead to you receiving a ban. Bans start at four years for intentional cheating, or where the player cannot prove lack of intent.
There is less leniency for carelessness. You are still likely to receive a two-year ban for inadvertent doping. To get any reduction in sanction from two years you must have substantial proof that you have done your research and be able to demonstrate that you were not at fault or intending to cheat.
Is the risk worth the gain? If a supplement does contain a Prohibited Substance, how will this affect your career? It can be very difficult to prove that the presence of Prohibited Substances from supplements were through no significant fault on your part as you already know there is a risk in taking them.
Getting your supplements tested by a reliable laboratory does not guarantee their safety or legality.
Supplement testing is one step towards assessing the risk of contamination to your product. Manufacturers are encouraged to test their products. However, you must be aware that this is not a guaranteed way of identifying safe products.
There are services available to help you minimise the risk of a supplement being contaminated. One of these is the website Informed Sport. However, please note that sites of this nature do not give any guarantees regarding the status of a particular supplement and you are responsible for any supplements you decide to use.
More information on this can be found here.
Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificates demonstrate that the anti-doping authorities have permitted you to use a prohibited substance for medical purposes.
Any player who is eligible for drug testing in the UK or abroad will need to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) if they are prescribed a prohibited substance or prohibited method by their doctor to treat a legitimate medical condition. The process is in place to protect the rights of players to compete on a level playing field.
Before applying for a TUE, you should check with your doctor to see if there are any alternative, permitted treatments or medications. If there are not, you will need to apply for a TUE according to the information and process outlined below.
To find out if the medication you have been prescribed is banned in sport, visit the Global Drug Reference Online website. If it is, you must apply for a TUE. You can download an application form (and guidance documents) from the UKAD website.
Club doctors can help you complete the form, but you must ensure that you are happy with the contents before you sign it. It is ultimately your responsibility, in line with the principles of strict liability, to ensure that the form is lodged correctly – and that you receive the TUE certificate stating that the TUE has been granted.
Asthma & Other Breathing Problems
Many asthma medications are Prohibited Substances, so all players need to seek advice before making any decisions.
Players need to be aware that there are upper limits for salbutamol, salmeterol formoterol and inhaled vilanterol. If these limits are exceeded players may be charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
The limits for salbutamol are a maximum of:
· 1600 microgrammes over 24 hours; and
· 600 microgrammes over 8 hours.
Salbutamol inhalers commonly dispense either 100 or 200 microgrammes per puff/inhalation, therefore this 600 microgramme allowance equates to either three or six puffs per 8-hour period.
The limit for formoterol is 54 microgrammes over 24 hours.
Salmeterol has a maximum allowable amount permitted over 24 hours as 200 microgrammes. If a player requires more than 200 microgrammes per day, UKAD should be consulted as it may be necessary to apply for a TUE.
Inhaled vilanterol has been introduced into the 2021 code. It is permitted to inhale up to 25 microgrammes over a 24-hour period. Exceeding this dosage is prohibited.
The dose administered per puff/inhalation varies between inhalers. You should check the product information leaflet that comes with the inhaler to establish the dose per puff/inhalation.
If the presence of these substances found in urine samples exceeds the respective limits, it will be presumed not to have been because of therapeutic use. It will instead be considered an ‘Adverse Analytical Finding’. This means that you will have to prove (through what is known as a controlled pharmacokinetic study) that the abnormal result was caused by you inhaling a therapeutic dose up to the maximum indicated above.
Poor administration technique or poorly controlled asthma could contribute to such abnormal urine findings. However, such a result will lead to an Anti-Doping Rule Violation hearing following which sanctions, including a suspension of up to two years, may be applied.
Players not Regularly Subjected to Testing
Players who are not regularly subject to testing (e.g. trialists) are not normally required to submit TUE applications. If you are tested at random, and you are using a prohibited substance for a legitimate medical condition, you should submit a TUE application straight away.
You should also inform the Doping Control Officer at the time of the test that you need to apply for a TUE. A fully completed TUE application needs to be received by UKAD no later than five working days after the test is completed (see mailing details above).
For further information or to download a T.U.E application form, please log on to www.ukad.org.uk
Under the RFL’s Anti-Doping Programme, players are required to submit to testing when notified by a UKAD doping control officer (DCO) or chaperone.
Testing is conducted according to the International Standard for Testing and Investigations.
Players can be tested at any time, in any place, without advanced notice. Testing can take place in-competition (at a match or event), or out-of-competition (at training or at home). Testing is intelligence-led and risk-based.
There are two types of anti-doping test: urine and blood. Blood collection officers (BCOs) are trained and experienced phlebotomists. Officials will always provide identification when they notify athletes and will ensure that you are accompanied at all times throughout the process.
Please visit the UKAD website for more information on testing procedures - https://www.ukad.org.uk/violations/testing-process
It is essential that all players check medication that they are prescribed to check whether or not it is a Prohibited Substance.
If it is a Prohibited Substance then the player will need to apply for a TUE before taking the medication.
Click the button below to be taken to the Global Drug Reference Online where you can check the status of any medication.
You can search by brand or ingredient. Please note that this service only is only suitable for medication and cannot be used to check the status of a particular supplement.
If you have any questions, please contact the RFL Anti-Doping team.
TUE Application Process
Some athletes or athlete support personnel who are submitting TUE applications to UKAD will need to be aware of the TUE application process. Club and Team doctors will be able to support athletes in the application and submission process. UKAD’s TUE wizard is a useful tool to guide athletes and support personnel through this process. For more information visit here.
International level athletes, as defined by their International Federation, should visit the International Federation website or contact it directly for information on how to apply for a TUE.
UKAD is the UK’s National Anti-Doping Organisation and as such are responsible for the implementation and management of the UK’s anti-doping policy. The RFL work very closely with UKAD in all elements of the RFL’s Anti-Doping strategy.
The report doping in sport hotline
This is a service from UKAD which is staffed by Crimestoppers where an individual can anonymously provide information regarding doping practices. The information is then fed in to UK Anti-Doping’s Intelligence Unit.
Phone: 0800 032 2332
100% ME is UK Anti-doping's player centred education programme. On this website you will find information on all aspects of anti-doping from TUE’s to Supplements.
World anti-doping agency (WADA)
WADA are responsible for implementing and managing anti-doping policy on a world-wide level.
Informed sport (check your supplement)
Australian sports anti-doping agency (ASADA)
ASADA are the National Anti-Doping Agency of Australia.
French anti-doping organisation
This organisation is the National Anti-Doping Agency of France.
Irish sports council
The Irish Sports Council are the National Anti-Doping Agency of Ireland.
International Rugby League
New Zealand anti-doping organisation
NZSDA are the National Anti-Doping Agency of New Zealand.
Other drug information services
For help and advice about general drug misuse you could contact:
Talk to Frank
0800 77 66 00
020 7298 1211
National Health Service
UK Anti-Doping has a 24-hour confidential phone line to support the fight against doping in sport.
The phone line provides a service for athletes, support personnel, and concerned family or friends to securely pass on information to UK Anti-Doping with guaranteed anonymity. Hosted by Crimestoppers, a dedicated team of trained operators are able to manage calls related to anti-doping. All information provided will be treated in confidence and researched and investigated by UK Anti-Doping. UKAD has added a ‘protection of whistleblowers’ clause to the existing Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs). UKAD will enforce further sanctions against anyone found to have attempted to deter, or retaliate against, someone who suspects and/or reports a doping violation to the authorities.
If you have any information about the use, supply or trafficking of prohibited substances, or suspect someone of doping.
MAKE THE CALL - 0800 032 2332
Information can also be submitted anonymously via