Record pre-Games testing campaign and independence of doping control to strengthen integrity of sport at the Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018

The work of the Pre-Games Anti-Doping Taskforce officially finished on 31 January, setting a record of 16,760 tests carried out since April 2017, and more than 21,000 in total since February last year across the seven Olympic winter sports.

Along with increased volume, the IOC has also committed to an improved intelligent testing system. This more targeted testing focuses on specific disciplines and nationalities that are at particular risk, as well as individual athletes and groups of athletes selected based on their ranking, and any suspicious change in performance or adverse testing history. Altogether, it is the most rigorous pre-testing programme in Olympic history.

The Pre-Games Testing Task Force consists of the DFSU in charge of the secretariat, a representative of the Winter International Federations (IF) and the following National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs): Anti-Doping Denmark (ADD), the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA), the United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The work of such a structure can minimise the risk of an athlete who might compete in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 slipping through the cracks and not being subject to doping control ahead of their participation.

“The aim of this was to optimise the testing in the months leading up to the Games,” said IOC Medical and Scientific Director Dr Richard Budgett.

“It is all very well that during the Games we have an intensive period of testing, but that’s only over four weeks. To really effectively cover that time when the athletes may be more likely to cheat, maybe more tempted to cheat, or think they can go under the radar, it is really important to have an effective programme,” he added.

The doping control process will continue and intensify during the Olympic Games.

“At these Games themselves there will be 2,500 tests carried out, counting blood tests and urines test separately,” said Budgett. “Over 1,400 of these tests will be out of competition, and over 1,000 in competition”.

The transition between the pre-Games testing and the doping control during the Olympic Games was made easy by the presence in PyeongChang of the DFSU, the secretariat of the pre-Games taskforce and soon to be the operational nucleus of the International Testing Agency, which will ensure that there is an independent overview of the anti-doping programme at the Winter Games in PyeongChang.

“It was a seamless transition into the Games-time testing, using all that knowledge gained from the intelligence available from the IFs, from WADA, and from the NADOs, making sure they test the athletes who have not been tested so much before the Games and fulfil the programme right the way through for the next three weeks,” said Budgett.

The DFSU will advise POCOG on any amendments to the Test Distribution Plan, based on new intelligence or changed circumstance, and will rule on whether any adverse analytical findings move forward to possible anti-doping violations. It is the also the DFSU which checks for approved Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), as well as being responsible for determining that no human or technical error could have related in the adverse finding.

“The IOC is still responsible under the World Anti-Doping Code for the doping control of the Games, but has managed to make the whole process more independent,” said Budgett.

To ensure that all steps of the decision are independently led, and as was already the case at the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the IOC has also decided to make sanctioning independent at PyeongChang 2018. All decisions on alleged anti-doping rule violations during these Games will be handled by a new Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with the possibility of appeal to the CAS, thus ensuring the independence of both the testing and the sanctioning processes.

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