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WADA report praises intelligent-led approach to London 2012 Olympic testing programme

The World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Observer report for the London 2012 Olympic Games has praised the collaborative approach taken by those involved in the anti-doping programme.

The report highlighted the value of intelligence in testing, concluding that the joint work of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) contributed to the success of the programme.

The report reads: “By developing a collaborative approach with both LOCOG and UKAD, the IOC has implemented a strong programme that builds on recent editions of the Games and constitutes a model for future Olympic Games.”

UK Anti-Doping was contracted by the IOC to run the pre-Games testing programme and assist in the daily IOC Taskforce activities.

The report continues: “As the first Olympic Games where the IOC worked directly alongside a local NADO, it should be highlighted that the IOC-LOCOG-UKAD partnership was very successful. Throughout the Games, the IOC, the LOCOG and UKAD communicated regularly to share intelligence with the goal of target testing athletes at highest risk for doping in the most effective manner possible. The IO Team observed that throughout the Games, the IOC was receptive to target test recommendations based on the intelligence received.”

The programme recommends that a similar strategy is employed at all future Games, praising the information provided by UK Anti-Doping:  “Such an approach would not have been possible without the skills and commitment of UKAD. UKAD was contracted by the IOC to analyse all available information to feed into a quality testing programme. Their methods, attention to detail and professionalism should be commended.

“Perhaps more importantly, UKAD also equipped the IOC with sources of information and intelligence that would not have otherwise been available to improve the efficacy of the IOC anti-doping programme. This included relationships with domestic law enforcement and border services, as well as the provision of dedicated intelligence analysts experienced in anti-doping who could research and provide recommendations to enhance the IOC’s efforts to effectuate a meaningful anti-doping programme. The role of UKAD in providing athlete-specific intelligence and conducting analysis and research where necessary was an overwhelmingly positive feature of the anti-doping programme of the Games. Their involvement improved the unpredictability of pre-competition testing by considering available information to proactively test the highest risk athletes world-wide during the Games period. This strength is underscored by the fact that the majority of all cases in London were from tests conducted pre-competition.”

Nicole Sapstead, UK Anti-Doping Director of Operations, said: “Hosting the 2012 Games in London presented UK Anti-Doping with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. It is excellent that the WADA IO report recognises the contribution intelligence made to the Olympic Games.

“That the work of UK Anti-Doping is seen as a model to take forward to future major events, recognises the outstanding work of the team in the run up to and during the Games. However, this would not have been possible without collaboration and the invaluable contributions made by all of our partners, from the sports and other anti-doping organisations to law enforcement agencies, and we look forward to building these relationships in the future.”

The report also supported the implementation of the satellite anti-doping laboratory in Harlow, underlining the important role played by GlaxoSmithKline; “The positive involvement and support of GSK was evident in assisting the laboratory to establish a state of the art facility and this type of relationship should be further explored for future Games”.

For the 2012 London Olympic Games, the IOC implemented the most extensive testing programme ever seen at an Olympic Games with a record number of tests carried out. The Test Distribution Plan (TDP) included a total of 5,064 tests (4,118 urine samples and 946 blood samples). Additionally, 430 samples were to be collected in conjunction with those International Federations operating an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) Programme. By the end of the Games, the IOC had conducted 5132 tests across 132 nationalities, having tested more than 30% of all participating athletes at the London Games.

Key observations from the Independent Observers included:

  • With regards the TDP, the report noted: The IOC, LOCOG and UKAD should be commended for reviewing all available information and intelligence in order to identify those athletes that the pre competition programme should focus on.
  • Praise for Chaperones, Doping Control Officers and Station Managers.

Recommendations for future Games included:

  • In developing the TDP for the next Olympics Games, the IOC may also wish to consider that intelligent testing goes well beyond only pre competition testing.
  • It may be useful to consider limiting future increases to overall test numbers in favour of more intelligent testing as far in advance of competition as possible.
  • The IOC should consider ways and means of ensuring an intelligence-led doping control programme can continue at future Games.

Notes to Editors:

The Independent Observer Programme
The Independent Observer Programme has been present at all Olympic Games since the Sydney Games of 2000. The task of the IO programme is to observe and report on all aspects of the doping control programme that is deployed during the Games. In addition to strengthening athlete confidence in the Olympic doping control programme by providing oversight during the event, it is also the aim of the IO to report findings that will improve future anti-doping programmes both at the Olympic Games and to provide recommendations that other Major Sporting Event Organisers can benefit from. 

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