UKAD testing programme modified to continue doping control process during the third national lockdown

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has released its quarterly testing report for January to March 2021. During this period, the UK once again stayed at home for its third national COVID-19 lockdown, with further closures impacting competitive sports and testing. Adhering to Government guidelines, UKAD continued to deliver a modified testing programme throughout, temporarily introducing a mobile doping control vehicle and remote sample collection.

View the full report here and below.

The latest report, published each quarter by UKAD, highlights an anticipated reduction in anti-doping tests conducted between January and March, with 1,324 tests carried out. However, since lockdown restrictions have been eased in the UK, testing numbers have significantly increased and returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The figures for the quarter shows that the most tested sports were football, athletics, rugby union, cycling and swimming.

With government restrictions in place, testing procedures were continuously modified, in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines and through consultation with members of the Government’s Return to Sport group, to allow Doping Control Personnel to carry out their duties safely whilst following guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

UKAD sought alternative solutions to deliver testing safely during lockdown, including adapting the protocol to introduce a mobile doping control vehicle and conducting remote sample collection to ensure that testing continued despite the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.

UKAD Deputy Director of Operations (Testing) Hamish Coffey said: “In the last year, we have put in a tremendous amount of work to ensure that testing continued despite the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions. The ability to adapt our practices quickly to adhere to the guidelines gave us the capacity to deliver a programme that retained its intelligence-led and risk-based focus throughout.

“Although COVID-19 will remain omnipresent for some time yet, we can confirm that  testing figures have already started to rise to pre-pandemic levels in recent months, especially as we intensify our pre-Games programmes ahead of Tokyo 2020, and will continue to rise as restrictions are lifted in the UK this summer.”   

UKAD has increased testing once again as lockdown has started to ease across the UK. UKAD is actively collecting samples from British athletes in the UK and abroad. International tests of UK athletes based overseas are conducted on behalf of UKAD by the local Anti-Doping Organisation or private Sample Collection Agency. International UK athletes may also have been tested by their respective International Federation.

UKAD will continue to test athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Athletes are reminded that testing can happen anytime, anyplace.