22 January 2020

Farah happy for samples to be retested*

Sir Mo Farah has clarified that he is happy for any of his samples to be retested, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has clarified that any sample taken ten years previously can be analysed by any anti-doping organisation (ADO) launching a new investigation. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) faced criticism after indicating that it would not reanalyse Farah’s samples at the request of other ADOs investigating athletes trained by Alberto Salazar unless there was credible evidence of doping. It argued it took this decision to protect Farah’s samples from degradation, so that they can be successfully analysed using new methods in the future.

The Statute of Limitations from the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code…

Commentators raised concerns that the World Anti-Doping Code’s Statute of Limitations may prevent analysis of Farah’s samples from previous years. A WADA spokesperson confirmed that under Article 17 of the World Anti-Doping Code, if an athlete is notified of an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), analysis of samples can take place ten years previously to the date on which an ADO informs Farah that it wishes to reanalyse a sample. And Farah has confirmed that he is happy for any ADO to reanalyse his samples (see below).

UKAD has never said that it would oppose or block retesting of Farah’s samples, just that it needed credible evidence because retesting would cause them to degrade, potentially making them useless should new testing methods emerge. It is understood that because of such concerns, UKAD refused to send Farah’s samples to USADA in 2017, when it was investigating Alberto Salazar. The Sports Integrity Initiative has asked USADA whether this is correct, as a reposted statement from 2017 indicated UKAD was not prepared to comment further.

Salazar was Head Coach at the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), and trained Farah. After an investigation lasting over four years, he was sanctioned for administration of a prohibited method; tampering and/or attempted tampering; and trafficking of testosterone. All the sanctions were due to experiments on staff and family members designed to ensure NOP athletes didn’t commit ADRVs under the World Anti-Doping Code. A USADA investigation did not find evidence that he had administered prohibited substances to NOP athletes. He has appealed the four year ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

* UPDATE: On 22 January, UKAD confirmed that that it had not ‘refused’ any request from WADA to retest samples. A USADA spokesperson added that the agency had worked with UKAD on a joint investigation, and it appreciated its assistance.

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