20th September 2021

Biathlete receives 18 month ban for three ‘whereabouts’ Filing Failures

Andrejs Rastorgujevs has been sanctioned with an 18 month ban for three ‘whereabouts’ Filing Failures in 12 months. The Latvian biathlete’s results after 1 July 2020 have been disqualified, meaning that Rastorgujevs will be stripped of a Gold he won in the 20km Sprint at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) European Championships in Poland, unless he appeals.

Elite athletes who are part of the registered testing pool (RTP) of a sporting organisation have to provide a location where they will be available for testing for one hour each day, in addition to their overnight locations and training schedules three months in advance, although this can later be amended. 

If an athlete incorrectly files such information, misses a test, or are not where they said they would be when Doping Control Officers (DCO) arrive to test them, then a ‘whereabouts’ strike is recorded against them. Under Article 2.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code, three ‘whereabouts’ strikes in 12 months is judged to be equivalent to an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), subject to a two year sanction. The ‘whereabouts’ rules are designed to ensure that elite athletes cannot avoid doping control.

A Missed Test is recorded when an athlete is unavailable during their specified 60 minute window. A Filing Failure is recorded where an athlete’s failure to update their whereabouts results in DCOs turning up at the athlete’s address or training session – for example – only to discover that the athlete is at another location.

Rastorgujevs is a member of the IBU’s male RTP (click to open)…

Rastorgujevs is a member of the IBU’s male RTP (see right, or click to download) of 70 biathletes. The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) Anti-Doping Division announced that Rastorgujevs had committed a first ‘whereabouts’ failure in October 2019 and a second in June 2020. An 11 March IBU statement announcing his provisional suspension revealed he was judged to have committed three Filing Failures, rather than Missed Tests.

The CAS ADD statement reveals that proceedings centred around whether the third Filing Failure had been correctly asserted against the athlete. ‘The Sole Arbitrator concluded that the Athlete had provided incomplete information that did not comply with all the requirements of Article I.3.1 of the International Testing and Investigation Standard (ISTI) and which was not sufficient to locate him for testing during the month of September 2020, and that, therefore, the International Testing Agency (ITA) had correctly recorded the third Filing Failure against the Athlete’, it reads.

Article I.3.1 of the ISTI outlines some of the ‘whereabouts’ information that athletes must provide (click to open)…

The CAS ADD statement didn’t go into detail about the ‘incomplete information’ that Rastorgujevs had failed to file, although details of the requirements of Article I.3.1 of the 2020 version of the ISTI are listed on the right. An 11 March statement, posted by Rastorgujevs on Facebook (below), suggests that his transgression was technical in nature. 

‘I admit I’ve made some human mistakes, I’d even say – technical mistakes’, it reads. ‘I want to assure everyone that I have not done anything forbidden. I have never used prohibited substances or prohibited methods. I’ve only openly stood up for pure and honest sports. It’s a pity that my long lasting and honest attitude is not valued, due to a technical mistake.’ The CAS statement said that the reason for reducing his ban from 24 months to 18 was due to the ‘lower degree of fault by the Athlete with respect to the third Filing Failure’.

The CAS ADD statement adds that Rastorgujevs and the IBU can appeal its Decision. “The whereabouts system is a core pillar of the global anti-doping structure and the BIU will make sure that it is upheld in our sport”, said Greg McKenna, head of the Biathlon Integrity Unit (BIU) in a statement. “All biathletes have a responsibility to keep their whereabouts information up to date and to avoid missing any tests. As we can see in this case, whereabouts failures can result in anti-doping rule violations and sanctions.” Rastorgujevs has yet to comment on the Decision.

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