20 January 2017

Russian athletes most heavily sanctioned by IAAF in 2016

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) sanctioned 36 Russian athletes for anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) in 2016, 18% of the 200 ADRVs it issued during the year, research by The Sports Integrity Initiative has revealed. The 36 ADRVs reported by Russia were 16 more than the 20 reported by Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain and the USA combined.

FullList jpgThe numbers do not necessarily mean that more Russians tested positive than track and field athletes from other nations during 2016. They reflect sanctions issued (ADRVs) by the IAAF against athletes during 2016 – they do not necessarily mean that the athlete concerned reported an adverse analytical finding (AAF) during 2016.

Russia’s position at the top of the IAAF ADRV list for 2016 (full list on the left) is perhaps to be expected, given that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been retesting samples given at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics based on the conclusions of the two Independent Commission (IC) and two Independent Person (IP) Reports produced for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which identified systemic, State-sanctioned doping in Russia. For example, the IOC recently announced that it was initiating proceedings against 28 Russian athletes following the findings of Part 2 of the IP Report produced by Richard McLaren for WADA, which was published on 9 December. It has already sanctioned 27 Russian athletes as a result of its reanalysis programme.

WADA 2014 ADRV report
WADA 2014 ADRV report

Russia was followed by India and Morocco, whose athletes clocked up 24 and 20 ADRVs respectively. Italy and Saudi Arabia reported 12 and nine ADRVs respectively, whilst Brazil, Kenya and Spain reported seven ADRVs each. Ethiopia, France and the USA reported six ADRVs each. Belarus, Lesotho and Nigeria clocked up four ADRVs each, whilst Canada, Kazakhstan, Portugal and Romania reported three ADRVs each.

The figures were compiled using the IAAF’s newsletters for 2016, available here, which list the number of sanctions the IAAF has issued via a link at the bottom of each newsletter. The 200 ADRVs reported by the IAAF during 2016 is 44 less than the number of ADRVs recorded in athletics by WADA in its 2014 ADRV report (PDF below), and 80 less than the number of athletics ADRVs reported in its 2013 ADRV Report. The 2015 version of WADA’s ADRV report is not yet available, but is expected to be published this Spring.

WADA 2014 ADRV report
WADA 2014 ADRV report

WADA’s 2014 Report ADRV Report showed that Russian athletes accounted for 39 of the 244 ADRVs reported in athletics. That constituted the largest number of ADRVs from a single country and made up 16% of the total. However, despite the number of ADRVs increasing to 40 for 2013, 14.3% of the total, Russia was outstripped by the 53 Turkish athletes sanctioned in 2013, who made up 18.9% of 280 total (PDF below).


The IAAF’s 2016 figures provide an illustration of where the IAAF is currently focussing its anti-doping sanctioning efforts. As Russia appears to have featured as one of the most heavily sanctioned countries since 2013, this suggests that the IAAF’s medical and anti-doping committee is likely to have been aware that there was a specific problem with doping in Russia back in 2013.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe confirmed as much in evidence given to the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee of the UK Parliament. “Every six months the anti-doping unit would come to the council, report on its work, report on progress, and report on the number of tests it was taking, the protocols around the world championships”, he said. “That would be the extent of the information that we were given. Were we awTableTwo2001are or was I aware, as anybody else was, that in some areas we had an escalating number from a particular country? We would be aware of that.”

However, perhaps Coe and the IAAF should have been aware of the specific issues in Russia earlier on in his tenure after being appointed IAAF Vice-President in 2007. In 2009, the IAAF sent a letter to the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) outlining its concerns about doping in Russia. A 2011 study published on the IAAF’s internet site, involving analysis of samples taken back in 2001, reveals that certain countries (Country A) may have had an issue with doping.

The IAAF ADRV figures support the contention that doping within Russia was an ongoing issue going back many years. Coe must now convince the CMS Committee that although he was aware of escalating doping in Russia, he was not aware of the allegations of corruption that were sent to the IAAF and Coe in August 2014.

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