Despite the growing research on doping in sport, there is little analysis of the sanctioning process. This article contributes to remedying this gap by examining anti-doping rule violation hearings heard before the California State Athletic Commission. Drawing upon qualitative fieldwork informed by socio-legal approaches, it explores how athletes articulate defenses against formal accusations of doping. Their performances reveal broader power relationships. Analysis of the interactions between participants in the hearings illustrates how relational aspects of the hearings are integral to understanding the anti-doping sanctioning process. In sum, this article reveals how attempts to adhere to seemingly objective, procedural protocols and intersectional forms of social difference converge, complicating the pursuit of the Commission’s mandate to protect the health of athletes under its jurisdiction.