27th May 2016

Analysis: 23 London 2012 sample retests return an AAF

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that 23 of the 265 London 2012 samples re-tested returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF). The 23 AAFs involved six National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and five sports, in comparison to 12 NOCs and six sports identified by the Beijing 2008 retests.

Interestingly, 8.7% of the London 2012 samples returned an AAF, higher than the 7% of the 454 Beijing 2008 retests (the IOC also announced today that one more Beijing 2008 sample had returned an AAF, brining the total to 32 of 454 retests). Both sets of retests are higher than the 1% of AAFs typically reported, as illustrated by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 2014 testing figures (see table).

However, to complicate the statistics, some of the AAFs from the London 2012 retests could involve the same athletes identified in the retests of the Beijing 2008 samples. “Some of them are the same”, IOC President Thomas Bach revealed in a teleconference call last week. “Athletes who participated in Beijing and London, and may qualify for Rio”.

Interestingly, the IOC felt confident in announcing that the London 2012 retests had resulted in 23 AAFs, stating: ‘The athletes, NOCs and IFs concerned are already being informed, after which the proceedings against the athletes can begin’. With the Beijing 2008 retests, it was only able to announce that ‘up to 31’ athletes had tested positive. The IOC’s Medical and Scientific Director, Dr. Richard Budgett, later revealed that the B samples of the Beijing retests had yet to be analysed and therefore, full AAFs could only be announced “in early June”.

The IOC has already confirmed that if any of the retest AAFs involve a medallist, further retests would be required before any medals are reallocated. “A positive case involving a medalist may then lead to another retest of another athlete who would theoretically feature in the medal ranking”, said Bach. “Only then, when we have the result of this other retest, then we would decide about the reallocation of medals.”

In individual sports this is fairly straightforward, however in team sports this may require reanalysis of samples taken from an entire team. If a gold medallist is identified in a team sport, this could result in a potentially huge reanalysis programme, especially if that reanalysis uncovers further positives.

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