New report highlights unseen role of UKAD in rebuilding anti-doping in Russia

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has released a new report today which for the first time reveals its unprecedented role in rebuilding anti-doping operations in Russia, over a three-year project.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) contacted UKAD in 2015 after its Russian counterpart (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant following the discovery of widespread doping in Russian athletics. RUSADA’s non-compliant status resulted in a halt to all anti-doping programmes in Russia, and at the request of WADA, UKAD was asked to step in to deliver these programmes.

Between 2015 and September 2018, UKAD carried out nearly 5,000 tests across 37 different sports, including the testing of 97% of the final Russian team ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Nicole Sapstead, UKAD Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to release this report today, which will give the public an important insight into the fascinating detail of the work UKAD undertook for nearly three years on behalf of WADA. 

“At the end of 2015, the world of sport was in a crisis we had never seen before, and there was effectively no anti-doping programme in Russia. It was vital that a system was in place for testing Russian athletes, to provide confidence to their competitors ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, and beyond.

“This report offers a great insight into the project, and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the UKAD staff who were directly involved. They undertook this hugely significant work with the upmost professionalism and delivered impressive results in what was a very challenging environment.”

Following the findings exposed by the documentary film ‘Icarus’ in May 2016, and the subsequent ‘McLaren Report’ from WADA, UKAD was requested to extend the scope of its intervention in light of these developments. 

Initially expected to last six to nine months, UKAD’s remit was to:

  • deliver a testing programme for Russian athletes
  • manage Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) applications
  • train Doping Control Officers (DCOs)

UKAD’s involvement in Russia lasted until RUSADA’s reinstatement in September 2018. 

Speaking on the release of the report, WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: “The rebuilding of RUSADA into a credible, independent and sustainable National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) required the hard work and dedication of a number of individuals and groups inside and outside Russia. UK Anti-Doping was instrumental in this process. UKAD’s work, particularly in the areas of intelligence-led testing, the management of the Therapeutic Use Exemption process and the training of Doping Control Officers, helped to maintain an anti-doping system within Russia during RUSADA’s period of non-compliance.

“WADA recognises the support and expertise that was provided by UKAD and thanks it for its significant contribution to ensuring that clean sport was protected in Russia during that time and that RUSADA could be re-built. What happened in Russia is not just a national concern – it is a global issue that has affected athletes across a wide range of sports, all over the world. For a well-developed NADO such as UKAD to step up and provide this service shows an encouraging level of collaboration and sets a positive example within the global anti-doping community, as we all work together to ensure a level playing field for athletes.”

Speaking on the release of the report, Sports Minister Nigel Adams MP said: “This report underlines the importance of UKAD’s work, not only here in the UK but also on the global stage. 

"Every athlete and every fan should be able to have faith that the sport they love is fair and free of doping. UKAD played a crucial role in increasing international confidence and setting up an anti-doping regime during one of the most challenging times in world sport.”

The report highlights one area of international work undertaken by UKAD. The agency has a remit to raise the international standards of anti-doping to protect British athletes competing at the highest levels of sport. UKAD is currently working, or has recently completed projects, in 10 countries, including Kenya, UAE, and Japan.

UKAD’s work with RUSADA in numbers:

  • 4, 790 tests conducted
  • 97% of final Russian team tested pre-Rio 2016
  • Testing took place across 37 different sports
  • 240 Whereabouts Failures issued
  • 26 newly-recruited Doping Control Officers (DCO) trained
  • 265 incident reports were logged on UKAD’s Intelligence Management database
  • ‘Train the trainer’ sessions delivered to six RUSADA staff
  • Testing took place in 66 of the 90 regions of Russia


On 8 October 2019, UKAD is hosting its annual Clean Sport Forum. This year’s conference will highlight various issues linked with integrity via our headline speakers, and give attendees the chance to hear invigorating debates and ask challenging questions through our panel sessions.

Clean Sport Forum 2019 will be the first public presentation of UKAD’s report on its work in Russia, featuring senior UKAD staff who will bring to life the scale and unique nature of this project. 

Read the full report below.