16 June 2015

WADA’s 2013 ADRV report: less than 1% of samples result in sanction

A report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) into Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) in 2013 has revealed that less than 1% of samples received and analysed by WADA laboratories resulted in a sanction. WADA’s accounts for 2013 show that it received US$28.8 million in contributions during the year, meaning that each doping sanction cost WADA $17,019. However, as WADA don’t carry out testing itself and that figure doesn’t take into account prosecution and other costs, the total cost per ADRV is likely to be far higher.

WADA’s 2013 ADRV report revealed that 207,513 samples were received and analysed by WADA laboratories during 2013. Of these, 2,540 resulted in an Adverse Analytical Finding (1.22%); and 1,687 (0.81%) resulted in an ADRV. Interestingly, just three of those ADRVs resulted from blood testing. WADA also reported 266 non-analytical ADRVs in 2013 (i.e. whereabouts failings, refusing/evading tests; trafficking etc.)

In some sports, the figures suggested that testing could perhaps be better directed. Badminton conducted 1,264 tests during 2013, for example, to return just two AAFs and one ADRV. On the other hand, bodybuilding returned 162 ADRVs from 1,710 tests (9.5%). Cycling produced 153 ADRVs from 22,252 tests, or in other words, just 0.7% of tests resulted in a sanction. This either suggests that cycling was a relatively clean sport in 2013, the year in which Lance Armstrong and Michael Rasmussen admitted doping, or that dopers were evading the testers.

In terms of tests carried out by National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs), there were a few surprises. The National Anti-Doping Commission (NADC) of Ukraine carried out just nine doping tests in 2013, less than the 10 carried out by Niger. The Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), which came under criticism for allegedly never having carried out a blood test at the start of 2013, returned six ADRVs from 294 tests, or in other words, 2% of its tests resulted in an ADRV.

The report also showed that far more males returned AAFs than females in 2013 – 1,357 compared to 330. Also, despite recent concerns that today’s dopers are evading testers through micro-dosing, in 2013 the majority of ADRVs resulted from in-competition tests rather than out of competition tests (1,321 against 366).

WADA and other national anti-doping organisations have consistently defended themselves from criticism of the low rate of sanctions resulting from the testing regime. ‘You can’t just back off from testing’, Nicole Sapstead, CEO of UK Anti-Doping told the Sports Integrity Initiative in a March 2015 interview. ‘We have to remember that testing is not just there to detect – it also serves as a deterrent. If you back off from testing, it rather undermines that general premise.’

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