Long-Term Storage – samples of ADOs participating in the LTS program are stored in a centralised facility, as well as all samples collected by the ITA during Games-time.
13 September 2021
A total of 6’200 collected samples from over 5’000 doping controls, more than one-third of the athlete population in Tokyo tested at least once – these are the final figures of ITA’s anti-doping program for Tokyo 2020. Six anti-doping rule violations were asserted to this moment as the outcome of ITA’s testing program. The vast majority of doping controls were targeted and followed a quality approach based on an extensive risk assessment, performance, and available intelligence. The last phase of ITA’s comprehensive anti-doping program for Tokyo 2020 is the storage and later re-analysis of samples collected during and in the lead-up to the Games.
With the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 ending over a month ago on 8 August 2021, the ITA now concludes the Games-time phase of its anti-doping program for the world’s largest sporting event. Altogether, 6’200 samples were collected both in- and out-of-competition from the opening of the Olympic Village to the Closing Ceremony. These urine and blood samples stem from over 5’000 doping controls conducted on over 4’255 athletes – which means that more than one-third of the participating athletes were subject to at least one doping control. This outcome shows that the ITA was able to fully carry out its original testing plan established before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Games despite the challenging and restricting circumstances caused by COVID-19.
Proportionally to the size of the largest national delegations that participated in the Games, the greatest number of tests were implemented on athletes from the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee), China, the United States, Great Britain and Australia (please find more information in the infographic below). Athletics, aquatics, cycling, rowing and weightlifting were among the disciplines with the most doping controls. Around two-thirds of the tests were done in-competition and one-third out-of-competition. A part of the latter was implemented outside of Japan to mitigate the effects of the shorter stay of athletes in the Olympic Village due to the COVID-19 countermeasures.
ITA’s testing strategy relied on an extensive risk assessment that was conducted ahead of the Games and considered a variety of factors, including the physiology of the respective sports, individual factors pertaining to the athletes as well as country risk levels. Combined with the Games-time recommendations of the ITA Tokyo 2020 Pre-Games Expert Group, performance factors and intelligence based on information received through ITA’s confidential reporting platform REVEAL and exchange with the Japanese authorities, Olympic Summer International Federations and other anti-doping organisations, the vast majority of doping controls implemented in Tokyo by the ITA were targeted.
These Games-time anti-doping operations were preceded by the most extensive pre-Games testing program ever implemented for an edition of the Olympic Games with over 25’000 testing recommendations issued by the abovementioned ITA Tokyo 2020 Pre-Games Expert Group and a completion rate of over 80%.
To date, the ITA has asserted six anti-doping rule violations based on results from samples it collected in Tokyo. All concerned athletes were provisionally suspended, which resulted in their immediate retrieval from participating in any competitions during the Games. Their cases have been passed on to the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS ADD) and/or their respective federations for final adjudication. The analysis for banned substances or methods on the 6’200 collected samples by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Tokyo has been finalised.
The ITA was present in Japan with a team of 24 anti-doping experts to oversee the implementation of its clean sport program for the Games, which was carried out in close cooperation with the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 and the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA). 250 Doping and Blood Control Offers from JADA and National/Regional Anti-Doping Agencies from around the world, 700 Chaperones and numerous other volunteers contributed to the roll-out of these large-scale doping control operations. The ITA wishes to thank all individuals and stakeholders that have contributed to the successful delivery of the Tokyo 2020 doping control program for their support and collaboration.
The ITA introduced several innovations to the Olympic clean sport program for its activities in Tokyo. Next to relying on a paperless administration system for doping controls, the ITA used a self-developed rooming application to locate athletes in the Olympic Village for out-of-competition controls and facilitated communication with the over 200 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) with ADCOM, its own support platform. The new Dried-Blood-Spot method was used for analysis, and gene doping testing was implemented for the first time at an edition of the Games.
All samples collected in Tokyo will be kept in ITA’s Centralised Long-Term Storage Facility (CLTSF) for up to ten years and will be selected for re-analysis by the ITA at a later point in time if and when technological or scientific developments allow for more advanced analytical methods. As the six months leading up to the event were the most critical in regard to doping, the ITA offered to any interested anti-doping organisation the storage of samples they collected during the pre-Games period for free in the CLTSF through a dedicated IOC-fund. To date, over 40 organisations have adhered to the project.
27 July 2021
The International Testing Agency (ITA) kicked off the in-competition program for Tokyo 2020 alongside the first Olympic sports events which began on 21 July. The out-of-competition program that launched with the opening of the Olympic Village is continuing in parallel until the end of the Games.
With the first competitions that started two days prior to the Opening Ceremony on 21 July, the ITA set in motion its in-competition anti-doping program for Tokyo 2020. Together with the still ongoing out-of-competition activities in the Olympic Village and all over the world, these are two core stages of the independent and comprehensive anti-doping program that the ITA is leading at the Games. Targeted doping controls are implemented daily and across all venues and disciplines to ensure a robust and well-balanced testing distribution. Of the around 5’000 samples that the ITA plans on collecting overall during the Games, approximately 3’500 will be the result of in-competition doping controls. Over 50 doping control stations have been set up at the various Olympic Venues. The ITA team is present with 24 anti-doping specialists in Tokyo.
The ITA’s clean sport activities for the Games, carried out in close cooperation with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA), are supported by 250 Doping Control Officers (DCOs) and 700 Chaperones. More than half of the DCOs come from JADA, the rest from National and Regional Anti-Doping Organisations from all over the world. All Doping Control Station Managers as well as a considerable number of DCOs have received advanced training through the ITA’s IDCO Training & Certification Program ahead of the Games.
These Games-time activities are part of a global anti-doping program that started one year ago and that the ITA led to recommend testing across all participating countries and International Summer Olympic federations to promote adequate testing on athletes who take part in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. These Pre-Games efforts were complemented by a large-scale long-term storage project enabling any interested anti-doping organisation to store samples collected during this pre-Games period at no cost in a facility set up by the ITA through a dedicated IOC-fund. To date, over 40 organisations are already participating in this program.
15 July 2021
The International Testing Agency (ITA), leading an independent anti-doping program for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, concludes an eight-month-long comprehensive pre-Games program in the lead-up to the event and reports a high testing implementation rate of 80% on recommendations for qualified athletes. This program is a collaborative effort between the ITA, National and Regional Anti-Doping Organisations and International Olympic Summer Federations and demonstrates a global motivation to ensure a level-playing field in the run-up to the Games. It constitutes the most extensive anti-doping program ever implemented ahead of an edition of the Olympic Games.
Since the testing recommendations were shared with the relevant organisations in December 2020, the ITA Expert Group has been regularly coming together to monitor their implementation, which was documented via a specifically designed digital sharing platform.
Now, very close to the start of the Olympic Games, this first phase of the anti-doping program has been completed with a testing implementation rate of 80% on athletes that qualified for Tokyo 2020. This high outcome rate proves the motivation and willingness of anti-doping organisations across the globe to contribute to the common goal of a robust pre-Games testing framework despite the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, following a final monitoring session at the beginning of July, the ITA pre-Games Expert Group has shared additional testing recommendations with the ITA for more than 2’500 athletes across all sports that will flow into ITA’s Games-time test distribution plan to continue to avoid any potential gaps.
As the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 draw closer, the ITA pre-Games anti-doping program is entering its final phase. The current status shows that the implementation of the recommendations to close worldwide testing gaps on athletes participating in the Games is advancing, with a pick-up of testing activities expected to happen in the weeks leading up to the opening of the Olympic Village.
Coordinated by the ITA, the pre-Games program is a collaborative effort between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), International Summer Olympic Federations (IFs), and National/Regional Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs/RADOs) to ensure that testing gaps are detected and addressed ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The work on this program began in 2019 when the ITA Pre-Games Expert Group consisting of a pool of specialists from International Federations (IFs) – representing both team and individual sports – and National and Regional Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs/RADOs) representing all five world continents was formed (please see the composition of the group below).
The group is responsible for reviewing available information on athletes who are likely to compete in the Games. It performs a risk assessment and shares testing recommendations with other anti-doping organisations (ADOs) to ensure that effective testing is conducted globally through a coordinated effort.
In December 2020, after updating the pre-Games risk assessment and re-calibrating its efforts after the postponement of Tokyo 2020, the group issued around 25’000 testing recommendations. This high number of recommendations is due to the fact that all 33 participating sports underwent review, and that they were issued more than six months prior to the event when the pool of potentially participating athletes had not been finalised. The review of all participating sports and the early issuing of the recommendations make this the most extensive pre-Games anti-doping program ever implemented for an edition of the Olympic Games. For comparison, the pre-Games anti-doping program for the last Summer Olympics in Rio started one month prior to the event and was comprised of 1’500 recommendations for 7 at-risk disciplines.
The ITA Pre-Games Expert Group has been monitoring the worldwide implementation of the recommendations on a dedicated platform on which all ADOs can share information about qualifications and the tests they had planned. A little more than a month before the pre-Games program ends with the opening of the Olympic Village, recommendations have been followed with at least one doping control for more than 75% for athletes and teams likely going to the Games*. Testing activity continues in the weeks leading up to the Games, and so these figures are expected to improve.
Furthermore, as the IOC and the ITA have secured an extended testing jurisdiction for the IOC allowing for additional testing to take place two months ahead of Tokyo 2020, the ITA is currently also directly filling potential testing gaps through doping controls on its own initiative.
As an additional deterrent effect for those tempted to use prohibited substances, the ITA continues to offer all interested ADOs, with the support of WADA, the opportunity to store samples collected before the Games in its Centralised Long-Term Storage Facility (CLTSF) that was set up through a dedicated IOC-fund. This allows for samples to be re-analysed for up to 10 years.
Detailed updates on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 pre-Games anti-doping program can be found here: June 2021, March 2021, December 2020
In May 2021, the ITA has signed collaboration agreements with governmental agencies in Japan in order to facilitate the exchange of information connected to potential doping offences concerning the Olympic Games.
To further ensure the implementation of an effective and robust anti-doping program and the sharing of relevant information on potential doping violations, the ITA entered into an official cooperation with the relevant Japanese governmental agencies together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and JADA.
In order to facilitate the exchange of information related to possible anti-doping violations, the ITA and all entities that have signed the MoC recognise the importance of close cooperation in the area of intelligence and investigations. All parties involved are fully committed to ensuring that the Games are clean and that all available measures can be taken swiftly should the use or trafficking of banned substances or methods be discovered in the context of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Under this new MoC, the ITA will be able to count on the full support of Japan Sport Agency (JSA) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Japan Sport Council (JSC), JADA, and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, in relation to intelligence and anti-doping activities in connection with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The ITA will also share any available intelligence with the Japanese authorities to allow them to fulfil their mandate under Japanese Law and the UNESCO Convention Against Doping in Sport.
The ITA has been entrusted by the IOC and with the full support of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to roll out and manage a global long-term storage and re-analysis program. This follows the successful discovery of a high number of anti-doping rule violations through previous re-analysis projects. Samples from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and all other subsequent Olympic Games will be retained in a dedicated facility for further analysis.
Long-term storage (LTS) of samples has emerged as one of the most impactful strategies to protect clean athletes and deter doping over the past decade. Today, under the World Anti-Doping Code, samples can be stored for up to 10 years after their initial analysis and still retain the same legal impact if re-tested and prosecuted. This allows them to be re-analysed for previously undetected substances, should scientific breakthroughs enable new technologies and analysis methods.
LTS and further analysis is also part of the global anti-doping strategy of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a requirement of the International Standard for Testing and Investigations to have such a strategy documented. The further analysis of samples collected during Beijing 2008 and London 2012 has so far produced over 130 Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs), which clearly highlights the effectiveness of such a program to provide dissuasion and the ability to further detect cheating. Therefore, the IOC had announced during the World Anti-Doping Conference in Katowice in November 2019 to dedicate a budget to develop a global LTS program and to provide a systematic approach to enable International Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) to store their samples collected prior to the Games at no additional cost.
Tasked with the development and management of this global program, the ITA has established a highly secured Centralised Long-Term Storage Facility (CLTSF) which is now operational and ready to receive samples. All summer IFs and NADOs are encouraged to store samples collected during the time leading up to Tokyo 2020 and any following Olympic event (‘pre-Games period’) to the CLTSF with the support of the ITA, who will coordinate the shipment, referencing and storage of the samples. In complement with the work done by the ITA Tokyo 2020 Pre-Games Expert Group, which issues recommendations to participating IFs and NADOs to close possible testing gaps ahead of the Games, this will constitute the most extensive pre-Games anti-doping program ever implemented.
Organisations storing their samples in ITA’s facility retain ownership and authority over them and can request re-analysis at any time – in that case, the ITA would arrange a transfer of the sample to a designated WADA-accredited laboratory. For this initiative to be a success, close cooperation between the ITA and all WADA-accredited laboratories involved is essential.
Before the pre-Games period, the ITA presented the detailed plans and processes of the Tokyo 2020 anti-doping program to make sure that all involved parties – the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the Chefs de Mission etc. – receive all necessary information regarding all clean sport activities at the Games.
Delegates of the ITA team are briefing representatives of National Olympic Committees participating in the Tokyo 2020 Games on the anti-doping program.
1 June 2019
4 January 2021
4 July 2020