2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games




The IOC, IPC and the USOC have published various rules, policies, and guidelines that are applicable to the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to all participants at the Games. These include guidelines about advertising restrictions, manufacturer identifications and placement limitations, social media usage, prohibitions of the manipulation of competitions, anti-doping rules, and conduct expectations. It is imperative that athletes are astutely familiar with the restrictions that could potentially jeopardize your eligibility and right to compete in the Games.

The Athlete Ombudsman Office has tried to pull together relevant documents to be used for your reference. Some sections apply to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, while other sections are only applicable to one or the other (e.g. Classification only applies to Paralympics).  The summary information should be used merely to trigger you to go to the actual policy, guideline or governing document. It should not be used as all-inclusive coverage of the rule or policy. Please refer to the full document (linked), or contact the Athlete Ombudsman if you have questions.


Bye-Law 3 to Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter (commonly known as “Rule 40”) and Section 2.1 of the Paralympics Chapter of the IPC Handbook (IPC Rule 2.1) prohibits all participants in the Games from using their image, name, picture, or sports performances for advertising purposes during the period of the Games, unless they obtain a waiver to this rule. The period of the Games, or the “Blackout Period,” runs 9 days prior to the Opening Ceremony until 3 days after the Closing Ceremony. For Rio Olympics, this is: July 27, 2016 – August 24, 2016. For Rio Paralympics, this is: August 30, 2016 – September 21, 2016. Athletes should read in detail the IOC Rio Rule 40 Guidelines and IPC Athlete Image Policy for Rio that provide the framework for acceptable and non-acceptable usage of advertising during the Games.

Waivers allow athletes/participants to engage in limited advertising during the Games, subject to strict restrictions. To obtain a waiver, athletes/participants must submit an application to the USOC (if the ad is run in the US). For more information on the waiver process and advertising rules and restrictions, read the USOC Rio Games Participant Advertising GuidanceUSOC Athlete Endorsement Guidelinesand visit http://www.teamusa.org/Athlete-Resources/Athlete-Marketing/Rule-40-Guidance. Any questions related to advertising at the Games should be directed to: athleteadreview@usoc.org

Manufacturer Logos

Bye-Law 1 to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter (commonly known as “Rule 50”) and Section 2.6 of the Paralympic Chapter of the IPC Handbook (IPC Rule 2.6) prohibit commercial markings on any article of clothing or equipment worn or used by the athletes or other participants in the Olympic/Paralympic Games, except for the identification of the manufacturer of the article or equipment concerned, provided that such identification shall not be marked conspicuously for advertising purposes. The IOC Guidelines Regarding Authorized Identifications and the IPC Manufacturer Identification Guidelines for Rio outline at what point identifications may be marked for advertising purposes (prohibited), which types of identifications are allowed, where such identifications can be placed, and how many times the identifications may appear. The Guidelines further include specifics particular to each sport on the Olympic/Paralympic program.

Personal Performance Gear

Pursuant to the Olympic Charter, the USOC has the “sole and exclusive authority to prescribe and determine the clothing and uniforms to be worn, and the equipment to be used” during the Olympic Games, including during competition and during ceremonies. However, this authority does not extend to specialized equipment used by athletes in competition.

The Olympic Charter defines specialized equipment as having a material effect on the performance of athletes, due to the specialized characteristics of the equipment. An athlete has the right to select his or her specialized equipment for use at the Olympic Games and other protected competitions as defined in Section 1.3(w) of the USOC Bylaws. For each sport included on the Olympic or Pan American program, the USOC, after input from the NGB and respective AAC rep, has designated the items on the Personal Performance Gear List (Summer Sports) as specialized equipment.


The IPC Classification Guide for Rio provides information about the classification policies and procedures for all sports on the Rio Paralympic Games program. The IPC’s “Zero Classification Policy” aims to reduce Games-time classification issues, which provides that only athletes with an international sport class and a sport class status of confirmed (C) or with a review date after 31 December 2016 are eligible to compete (with the exception of Wheelchair Rugby).

However, there are Games-time classifications for limited cases (and for only some sports) to handle unforeseen circumstances or exceptions. For those cases, the Classification Guide sets forth details about the classification evaluation period (what to bring, and when and where to be evaluated).

The Guide further details the procedures for NPCs to lodge protests (in what circumstances, where, when, and how). It also explains that protests under exceptional circumstances can only be conducted by a chief classifier, and that appeals are limited to only challenging the manner in which an athlete’s classification procedures have been conducted.

Because there are extremely limited options for classification evaluations/protests at the Games, NGBs/HPMOs/PSOs should verify their IF master list to make sure athletes’ classification information is up to date and correct.


Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter and the IPC Athlete Nationality Policy require that competitors in the Olympic/Paralympic Games be a national of the country they represent.

However, if a competitor changes nationalities or acquires a new nationality, he/she may only participate in the Olympic/Paralympic Games to represent the new country provided that 3 years have passed since the competitor last represented his/her former country. This 3-year gap period may be reduced only upon the agreement of the NOCs and IF concerned, and by the IOC Executive Board/IPC.

NGBs MUST submit appropriate documentation to the IOC, via Carolina Bayon with USOC International Relations carolina.bayon@usoc.org, even if the athlete has been competing for the US under an IF waiver.

Rio Social Media Guidelines

The Rio IOC Social and Digital Medial Guidelines and the IPC Social and Digital Media Guidelines for Rio permit participants to share their experience at the Games through internet or any other type of social and digital media, provided that it is done in first-person, diary-type format, not as a journalist or reporter, nor for the purposes of demonstration or any form of political, religious or racial propaganda. Participants can post or otherwise share on social and digital media still photographs taken within Olympic/Paralympic venues for personal use, but not for commercial purposes. No pictures shall be taken in the areas of the Village designated as “no picture areas.”  Participants are allowed to capture audio or video of the events, competitions or any other activities which occur at Olympic venues for their personal use, but such audio or video may not be made available on social and digital media (e.g. by posting or streaming) or on any other type of media without the IOC/IPC’s prior approval. Participants may not use the Olympic/Paralympic symbol on social and digital media.

IOC Ethics Code

Preserving the integrity of sport and fair play is fundamental to the Olympic Movement. To uphold standards of dignity, the IOC Code of Ethics prohibits discrimination, harassment, doping, betting, and non-sporting conduct; and guarantees the safety and well-being of athletes. The Ethics Code expects all Olympic parties or representatives to act with integrity in fulfilling their mission. 

As part of the Code, the IOC has established the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions. In this, all NOCs must also declare their commitment to safeguard the integrity of sport and protect all competitions from the risk of manipulation. It prohibits betting, manipulation of sports competitions, corrupt conduct, using inside information for benefits, failing to report, or failing to cooperate with an investigation. Disciplinary procedures are in place for the enforcement of any alleged violations.

IPC Code of Ethics

Paralympic history and tradition are based on the principles of excellence in sport, opportunity to participate in fair competition, and enhancement of the dignity of athletes and sport. This necessitates acceptance of the fundamental values of honesty, human rights, fairness, justice, nondiscrimination and personal integrity.

The IPC Code of Ethics requires that members of the Paralympic Family adhere to ethical standards such as: safeguard the dignity of the sport; work for the benefit of the Paralympic movement; safeguard athletes’ interests and opportunity to participate; protect an athletes’ physical and mental health; comply with anti-doping rules; and conduct business with integrity in line with the Paralympic values. Further, it is prohibited to discriminate, harass, abuse another (mentally, physically or sexually), and engage in any betting related to the Paralympic Games, or IPC-sanctioned events.

Further, members of the Paralympic Family must refrain from conflicts of interest, improper use of assets, improper use of information, and obtaining gifts/gratuities/prizes that are not approved. Lastly, the Code of Ethics sets forth code of conducts particular to: athletes, classifiers, anti-doping officials, technical officials, appointed leaders or administrators, members on the IPC governing board/committees/councils, and candidates to election.

Members of the Paralympic Family shall endorse the Vision, Mission and values of the IPC and shall respect all IPC Codes, Policies and Rules.

IOC/IPC Eligibility Conditions Form

All participants at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games must sign and agree to the terms within the IOC Eligibility Conditions Form and/or IPC Eligibility Conditions Forms. The terms of this agreement include, but are not limited to, a media release to the IOC, restrictions on personal commercial use of images/videos, compliance with the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code, assumption of the risk, release of liability, release of personal data, and an arbitration agreement. Participation in the Olympic Games is conditional upon the acceptance of and compliance with such terms. 

The Eligibility Forms shall be available shortly.

Anti-Doping Rules for Rio

Rio Olympics

In compliance with section 20.6 of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), the IOC establishes anti-doping rules particular to each Olympic Games to conform with the Code. The IOC Anti-Doping Rules Applicable to Rio include definitions of doping and what constitutes rule violations; information about testing, testing periods, and investigation procedures; results managements; potential sanctions and consequences, the process for appeals, and information regarding confidentiality.

During the Games, the IOC has the authority to appoint WADA and other Anti-Doping Organizations to carry out the doping controls and results management. The 2016 Prohibited List shall be in force, and testing can be conducted at any time or place with no advance notice. The IOC requires all athletes to use ADAMS to include sufficient details of their whereabouts (block and room number in the Olympic Village and place of training) so they can be easily located during the Games.

One key difference to highlight in the Rio Anti-Doping Rules is that the period of the Rio Games shall now include “In-Competition” and “Out of Competition” rules (in the past, the entire period of the Games was treated In-Competition). “In-Competition” shall mean the period 12 hours before a competition through to the end of the competition and the sample collection process related to that competition.

Further, the IOC has determined that a new CAS Anti-doping Division panel will replace the former Disciplinary Commission and handle all doping cases during the Games. These procedural rules of the CAS Anti-doping Division will be forthcoming.

Rio Paralympics

The IPC Anti-Doping Codeand IPC Doping Control Guide for Rio shall apply to all Accredited Persons at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, from the opening of the Athlete Village until the day of the closing ceremony: August 31, 2016 – September 18, 2016.  We are highlighting only a few key provisions from the Doping Control Guide for Rio, but NGBs/PSOs/HPMOs need to be familiar with both the Doping Control Guide and the IPC Anti-Doping Code in full.

During the Rio Paralympics, testing will be conducted in-competition, which is defined as “the period commencing 12 hours before a competition in which the athlete is scheduled to participate through to the end of such competition and the sample collection process related to such competition,” and out-of-competition. All prohibited substances and methods for in-competition and out-of-competition on the WADA 2016 Prohibited Substances List shall be in effect.

It is imperative that athletes apply for and obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for any medication or method they are using that is included on the Prohibited List. TUE certificates must be submitted to the IPC Medical Committee by August 1, 2016 at the latest. After that time, applications for TUEs will only be valid for the duration of the Games (unless the IPC is the IF of the sport).

For more information, it is encouraged that NGBs/PSOs/HPMOs and athletes read the World Anti-Doping Code, applicable International Federation Anti-Doping Rules, be familiar with the 2016 Prohibited list and WADA International Standards, submit TUE applications well in advance of the Games, consult the Global Drug Reference Online and Supplement 411 to look up the prohibited status of medications and supplements, attentively watch the USADA online education modules, update whereabouts when/if necessary, and reach out to USADA directly with questions at 719-785-2000.

Late Athlete Replacement Policy for Rio Olympics

The Late Athlete Replacement (LAR) Policy for Rio Olympics applies to athletes only within sports/disciplines where the quota place has been allocated to the NOC (not an entry-by-name spot), and only when there is an urgent medical condition preventing participation of an athlete, or upon an exceptional circumstance. The replacement Athlete must meet all eligibility and qualification criteria, and have successfully applied for accreditation. LAR may only occur up to the relevant sport/discipline/event Technical Meeting, unless otherwise stated in the sport specific Late Athlete Replacement Appendix. The sport specific appendix sets forth information regarding whether the policy applies to the particular sport, deadlines for LAR, date and time of the technical meeting, and information about P alternate Athletes.

USOC Games Forms

For every Games, the USOC requires athletes, coaches, Games staff, USOC employees, and Executives/Guests/Dignitaries to sign and abide by the USOC Games Forms as a condition of participation at the Games. The USOC Games Forms generally contain a code of conduct; a form to list all doping charges and criminal convictions/indictments/charges; grievance procedures; a general release (that includes a consent to medical treatment, media release, an assumption of the risk and release of liability); a form to include insurance and beneficiary information; and a signature page.

The USOC Games Forms shall be available shortly.