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  • Trust Issues At PyeongChang Doping Control


    (ATR) The fallout from the Russian doping scandal eroded trust in the anti-doping testing measures at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a newly released report says.

    The World Anti-Doping Agency released its independent observer report from PyeongChang. WADA’s observers identified a general lack of trust in the anti-doping control system, and a lack of understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the different doping control bodies as the major challenges from the Games.

    The report itself is just over 50 pages and details how the doping control process played out during the Games, while offering recommendations from local organizers, the IOC, and WADA itself.

    “It was predictable that suspicion around the integrity of the anti-doping activities would be prevalent,” the report said. “This suspicion was highly manifested at the start of the Games and residual suspicion by some athletes and teams lingered throughout the Games Period.”

    In the final days leading up to the 2018 Olympics the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned lifetime bans for a number of Russian athletes sanctioned by the Oswald Commission for manipulation of the doping controls at the Sochi Games. This kicked off a frantic set of appeals to determine the final makeup of the Olympic Athletes from Russia delegation.

    Eventually around 170 athletes from Russia competed under a neutral flag at PyeongChang. Two athletes from the delegation registered anti-doping rule violations during the Games. Regardless, the IOC lifted its ban on the Russian Olympic Committee just after the Games ended. 

    “It is a great credit to the partnering organizations involved that this suspicion and distrust dissipated somewhat with factual explanations and first-hand witnessing of the professional approach by doping control staff,” the report added. “Despite this, a residual sense of doubt over the effectiveness of the doping control activities remained throughout the Games Period and was reflected in feedback obtained from a number of athletes.”

    Confidence was further shattered ahead of the 2018 Games when reports emerged that newly created sample bottles for the Games could be manipulated without leaving any trace evidence. WADA and the IOC quickly reacted by procuring an older version of the bottle used at the 2016 Olympics.

    “This tense atmosphere complicated the work of the doping control personnel considerably,” the report added. “Offers were also made by the IOC to meet athletes and other concerned participants in person, to clarify any question and address the concerns. While these initiatives could have been provided earlier, they must be commended and were appreciated by those concerned, but they did not suffice to dispel all concerns.”

    The report also recommends that the relationship between the International Testing Authority, WADA, the IOC, and other stakeholders be clarified. The IOC had originally intended the ITA, originally called the Independent Testing Authority, be operational for the PyeongChang Olympics.

    Instead, testing at PyeongChang was handled by the doping control unit of the Global Association of International Sports Federations.

    The entire report can be viewed here.

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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