Are Powerlifting Meets Drug Tested?

Are Powerlifting Meets Drug Tested?

As a sport, one of the most common questions asked is “Are powerlifting meets drug tested?”

While powerlifting is a sport of skill and strength, people want to know if PEDs are common or not.

Today we are going to break down if powerlifting meets are drug tested and how to make sure you follow the rules of drug tested competitions.

We will also break down what you can do to ensure you are always following the rules of drug tested meets.

Are Powerlifters Drug Tested?

When it comes to asking if powerlifters are drug tested, it’s important to note that there is testing both in AND out of competition. While it varies from federation to federation, many powerlifting meets offer some options.

When it comes to testing both in and out of meets, the lifter is asked to give a sample (typically a pee test, but sometimes a blood test) by a member of the federations doping control representative.

After the samples have been collected, it is sent to a drug testing facility (some are WADA compliant) for laboratory testing and confirmation as to whether the athlete has passed the tests.

In-Competition Testing

The purpose of in-competition testing is to see if an athlete is using any performance-enhancing substances that are banned by the federation that is hosting the meet.

Lifters are tested based on different factors, from where they place, to a random testing selection, or the fed can double down and target specific lifters to test if they believe there is a reason to do so.

Out Of Competition Testing

As for out-of-competition testing, this is to determine if an athlete is using a PED but cycling off before competition starts.

Lifters who cycle off of PEDs before competition can come out clean on competition day, but be blasting their way to success by cycling.

For out of competition, lifters are either tested at random (where they still provide where they will be and what they will be doing so WADA knows when to go in) or with advanced notice, where lifters present themselves to WADA at specific dates/times.

The IPF has stepped up their OOC testing as of late to get the IOC recognition.

What Powerlifting Federations Drug Test in the USA?

Here is a brief list and breakdown of what federations test within the United States. While each of them offers a different testing style, they are all viable options if you are looking to compete in a Drug Tested environment.

We also want to point out that there may be other federations within the US that offer drug testing, but these are typically the most prominent as of 2022.

  • International Powerlifting Federation (IPF)
  • USA Powerlifting (USAPL)
  • International Powerlifting League (IPL)

International Powerlifting Federation (IPF)

The IPF is the most popular drug-testing federation in the world. The largest reason for this is they are hoping to get IOC recognition for powerlifting, which means they have to hold themselves to Olypmic standards. The IPF anti-doping team performs drug testing in and out of competition while following the WADA compliance codes.

If you are curious about the IPF, here is there website:

For more info about Powerlifting in the Olympics check out our article!

USA Powerlifting (USAPL)

The USAPL was originally a part of the IPF before a difference in testing standards was developed between the national and international level. However, within the US it is fair to say that USAPL is THE go to name in drug tested powerlifting on the

International Powerlifting League (IPL)

The IPL, and by extension its US branch the USPA, is a federation that has both drug tested meets and untested meets (meaning no drug testing is done).
On the drug-testing side of the IPL, the meet must be sanctioned as drug tested and only lifters who finish in the top 10% of DOT’s scores are tested for PEDs.

Along with this, there is absolutely no out of meet testing done by the IPL/USPA.

The IPL/USPA also provides a list of what is and is not a banned substance within their eyes. While they may not be WADA compliant, they use that list as the base for their drug testing policies.

If a lifter fails a drug test they are subject to a $500 fine along with a ban from all Tested events. If a lifter fails to pay this they are banned from the federation as a whole and must look elsewhere for competition.

If you are curious about the IPL check out their website:

Drug Testing Standards For Powerlifting Meets

The banned substances for WADA must fall under 2 of the 3 potential criteria: It can enhance performance, it presents a health risk to the athlete, and it violates the spirit of the sport.

Every year WADA re-examines and reviews what substances are on the banned list to ensure that it is always up to date and matches the current medical and scientific evidence.

Many drug tested powerlifting federations do follow the standards set forth by WADA, even if they are not WADA compliant. Most federations do have links to what is banned in their rulebooks.

The most common tests that are performed on athletes are a urine test to determine if a banned substance is used. If there is a positive the tests will be done again. If there is a false-positive, more digging must be done.

What If A Powerlifter Tests Positive for PEDs?

For most federations, if a powerlifter tests positive, it’s basically game over for the lifter.

There is disqualification from all federation events that can happen. Fines that are handed down for knowingly breaking the rules and honestly, its very embarrassing to compete in a tested competition while there are readily available untested events.

There can even be a lifetime ban from events due to extreme cases of rule violations.

If You Want To Be A Drug-Free Powerlifter, Do This

Compete In a Drug Tested Federation

Being a drug-free lifter means that you have the ability to compete in federations that take drug testing incredibly seriously. The federations we listed above all hold a high standard for in competition testing and two of them also include out of competition testing.

As a lifter, you should go where you can be most competitive. While some higher level drug-tested athletes can do well no matter the federation they take part in, the average lifter may see a more enjoyable experience when they compete in tested competitions.

Lead by example and compete in a drug tested federation if that is your wish.

Know What’s on WADA’s Banned Substance List

What happens often when someone pops for a PED is because there was either an update to the list they were unaware of OR they didn’t actually read the list.

One example that happens frequently is with weed. They are banned in competition and can cause a lifter to fail their drug test.

The next most common is not paying attention to medication they are taking. It is imperative to confirm that your medications do not contain anything from the WADA list and that they are all declared and approved by the federation you are competing in. This is a fairly simple task and as long as you can read, you will be fine.

If you are wanting to be 100% proof positive that you are in the clear, please make sure that you read the WADA Banned Substance List to ensure that everything that is entering your body is clean and good for you to use.

Pay Attention to Your Supplements

Much like with your medications, paying attention to what supplements you take is incredibly important, especially since the industry is highly un-regulated which means contamination and wrongful claims run RAMPT.

One way to ensure that your supplements are clean and of high quality is to look for the NSF Certified badge, as shown below. If a product has passed NSF inspections it means it contains the ingredients specified, the purity is there and quality is high.

NSF Certified Sport Certification image

Some federations even have lists of products that they recommend (from protein powder to pre-workout) and how you can use them to get the most effective results.

Just keep in mind, if you do pop for a banned substance, it’s on you, not on anything else.

Final Thoughts

As a strength athlete, its important to know that there are options for every kind of competition, from drug free to drug full.

All federations exist to help promote the sport of powerlifting and there are powerlifting meets that are drug tested to do even more.

For those wondering if powerlifting meets are drug tested, the answer is simple, yes they are.


If you are looking to follow and learn from some amazing people and powerlifters follow the links below or read this article for some great stories. Or if you are looking for programming, you can find one of our free programs here or you can reach out to one of our team members to see how to take your training to the next level.

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