20th January 2020

UKAD denies adopting new position on Farah samples

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has said that it position regarding access to Sir Mo Farah’s samples has not changed since 2017, after it faced criticism for indicating it would not give them to other agencies unless there was credible evidence of doping. In November last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and UKAD said that they would work together to see if any action needs to be taken regarding athletes trained by Alberto Salazar, who has appealed a four year ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

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 anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) under the World Anti-Doping Code. A US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation did not find evidence that he had administered prohibited substances to NOP athletes.

“All British elite athletes who are part of UKAD’s whereabouts testing and/or reanalysis programme will be under the jurisdiction of UKAD even if they are overseas training or competing”, read a 4 March 2017 statement from UKAD CEO Nicole Sapstead, reposted on its internet site today. “Their samples will be tested and potentially reanalysed by UKAD based on intelligence received and improvements in detection methods. Each time a sample is reanalysed or sent to another location, the amount contained within a sample can be reduced or has the potential to degrade which limits the possibility to test again in the future.

“Decisions as to testing and analysis therefore require careful consideration, and national anti-doping organisations can quite legitimately disagree in this regard. We do not comment on our testing strategy or ongoing investigations, as has been made clear in recent investigations. Status is no barrier to thorough testing or potential investigations. UKAD treats all athletes in the same way.

“As is standard practice, if at the end of the investigation there is no resulting prosecution, UKAD will not publish the details. This is because we have a duty to protect the rights of those involved and any information gathered in the investigation may be important to our work at a later date.”

UKAD’s reposted 2017 statement said that it had an ‘excellent’ relationship with its partners, ‘including USADA’. The Times reported that UKAD had refused to grant USADA access to the samples during its investigation into Salazar. As detailed above, Sapstead also argued that reanalysing samples or sending them to another location could result in degradation of the sample, rendering it less useful for future analysis. 

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

Salazar coached Farah for seven years until he was charged by USADA in 2017, after allegations regarding Salazar’s practices emerged in 2015. The Statute of Limitations under Article 17 of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code is ten years. The wording of Article 17 means that if an ADO wished to test samples taken in 2010, they would have to notify Farah immediately.

“I think that UKAD should not oppose the transfer of samples”, Margarita Pakhnotskaya (Маргарита Пахноцкая), Deputy Director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), told State news agency TASS. “According to paragraph 6.5 of the World Anti-Doping Code, further analysis of doping tests can be conducted at any time exclusively at the direction of the anti-doping organisation as directed by WADA. Any opacity on either side, and this question is not just about UKAD, creates a wall of distrust in the anti-doping system of the country and, accordingly, the athletes that are part of that system.”

Article 6.5 of the World Anti-Doping Code…

As shown, Article 6.5 of the World Anti-Doping Code mandates that the anti-doping organisation responsible for results management – in this case UKAD – is responsible for any retesting. Sapstead never told The Guardian that UKAD would oppose the transfer or retesting of samples, only that credible evidence was needed before the samples would be transferred in order to protect Farah’s samples from degradation. Such degradation may scupper any retesting using new methods in the future.

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