RUSADA resumes testing for athletes

Today the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA held a press conference discussing the resumption of testing for athletes.

The main issues as part of the event, held online, touched upon important topics such as:

  • the procedure for collecting doping samples in the context of the coronavirus pandemic;
  • new approaches to ensuring the safety of athletes during testing;
  • training and additional protective equipment for RUSADA doping control inspectors;

Announcements were made by RUSADA Director General Yuri Ganus, Deputy Director General Margarita Pakhnotskaya, Head of the Testing Department Victoria Barinova and Head of the Science Department Anna Kondakova.

They stated that doping tests would resume in the closing ten-day period of May across the country. RUSADA will focus on the safety of testing both for athletes and their families (during out-of-competition testing) as well as for doping control inspectors.

Over the course of April, RUSADA worked out plans for resuming doping tests and also examined the experience of other agencies. However, with the exception of athletes’ testing, the agency continued to carry out its routine work in other areas.

At the moment, WADA’s new recommendations are anticipated and should arrive on May 10. The recommendations will include methods and models of the relevant work to be conducted. At the same time, the procedure for doping tests should not differ from accepted international standards. Russian athletes must be sure that they are tested exactly as athletes from other countries.

There will be no deviations from the standard doping test schedule. Submitting information to the ADAMS system in full remains the responsibility of all athletes.

All these arrangements will be held in accordance with regulatory documents – the World Anti-Doping Code and the International Standard for Testing and Investigations. Samples will be sent to WADA accredited laboratories abroad; currently there are no restrictions on their export.

DHL continues to operate so it is expected that there will be no problems in terms of the delivery of doping samples to European laboratories. European laboratories are ready to examine samples. Furthermore, organizations have introduced additional protection measures for working with biological samples.

Yuri Ganus appealed to the leaders of the All-Russian Sports Federations with a request to assist when preparing specialized places for doping tests, and also to monitor the discipline of athletes. RUSADA will act very harshly if athletes try to evade doping tests under the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic.

RUSADA worked out a testing model and ordered all the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for doping officers. The model takes into account the recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor and other state bodies. PPE will also be offered to athletes and their families.

If athletes wish to be exempted/refuse to undergo testing due to restrictions or illnesses, they must provide information on the relevant restrictions – quarantine, sick leave or any other situation – in documented form. Information on the necessary documents in this case will be relayed to athletes through the sports federations. It is also crucial that athletes receive specialized treatment for any coronavirus infection. This should be indicated in the protocol.

At the same time, regulations on quarantine restrictions must be entered into the ADAMS system along with information on geo-location.

The staff of RUSADA inspectors will not increase. Staff members will carry out the necessary work as testing increases. They will be tested for COVID-19 and will maintain a self-isolation regime in between doping testing.

Margarita Pakhnotskaya emphasized that when compared to other agencies RUSADA had taken an intermediate position between those who completely stopped testing and those who continue to undergo testing. Some European agencies continue with their procedures, reducing testing to critical levels, i.e. 10-20% of the plan. The largest figure is 40%.

Due to the fact that Russia introduced restrictions later than European countries, over the course of March the plan for out-of-competition testing was basically implemented.

RUSADA does not plan to request additional funding from the federal budget.

RUSADA will optimize certain budget items by transferring educational programmes online, as well as reducing travel expenses and other optional expenses. At the same time, RUSADA target numbers are not expected to change.