New analysis by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has revealed that only three of nearly 2,000 anti-doping rule violations in 2013 were uncovered as a result of blood samples.
The vast majority – 1,684 – of these violations were detected in urine samples received and analysed in 2013; a further 266 violations were “non-analytical”, meaning they did not involve the detection of a prohibited substance by a WADA-accredited laboratory.
The new report discloses that 207,513 samples were received and analysed in all, with 2,540 – around 1.2 per cent – resulting in adverse analytical findings.
The statistic with regard to blood testing is perhaps not as surprising or disappointing as it might at first appear, since many will have been conducted as part of an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme whose function is to detect unusual changes in an athlete’s biological variables that might betray a change of behaviour such as recourse to doping.
Further testing is likely to be necessary in such cases before an anti-doping rule violation results.
Nonetheless, the extreme paucity of blood samples leading directly to violations may well lead to renewed questioning of the need for, and effectiveness of, a procedure. that can both inconvenience and discomfort athletes.
Asked to comment on the low number of violations stemming from blood tests, WADA replied: “Only 11 adverse analytical findings were reported from blood samples collected in 2013.
“Three cases were concluded as anti-doping rule violations, while the other eight cases are still pending.
“Some prohibited substances are only detectable in blood.”
WADA’s first-ever anti-doping rule violations report reveals that 1,953 sanctions were levied for violations committed in 2013.
These sanctions were imposed on athletes and athlete support personnel from 115 countries in 89 sports.
Details of anti-doping rule violations by country contained some interesting surprises.
While few will bat an eyelid at the disclosure that Russian athletes committed more anti-doping rule violations – 225 – than those from any other nation, or indeed that Turkey were runners-up in this league table of shame with 188, the presence of French athletes in third place with a total of 108, 13 ahead of India, will come as a shock to many.
Belgium, Italy, Spain and Poland – a quartet of European countries who filled from fifth to eighth places with tallies ranging from 55 for Poland to 94 for Belgium for – are also considerably higher in the table than many would have expected.
Cycling with 16, weightlifting with 12, athletics with 10 and rugby with eight all made significant contributions to the French total.
Belgium’s tally included no fewer than 35 violations in the sport of bodybuilding; Italy’s copy-book was blotted by 36 cycling violations, while the most frequent transgressor among Spanish athletes was triathlon with 15.
Figures in the report indicated that 1.17 per cent of athletics samples produced adverse analytical findings and 1.25 per cent of cycling samples.
Equivalent proportions in other sports included football at 0.5 per cent, rugby at 1.27 per cent, weightlifting at 3.36 per cent, powerlifting at 5.23 per cent, American football at 5.96 per cent and bodybuilding at 10.47 per cent.
David Howman, WADA’s director general, said the organisation was “pleased to provide the most comprehensive set of doping statistics to date”.
He said the new report, “when combined with the annual testing figures report, will be of value to the anti-doping community’s efforts to protect clean athletes in every country around the world”.
The report can be accessed here.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.