The long-term storage and re-analysis of samples collected during doping controls is part of the extensive anti-doping program that the ITA has been carrying out independently on behalf of the IOC since 2018. Re-analysis programs provide an additional layer of doping deterrence and extend the detection range of possible rule violations beyond the initial analysis after sample collection. This allows for further testing based on new information, for example through investigations, or when scientific breakthroughs allow for better detection methods. Under the World Anti-Doping Code, samples can be stored for up to 10 years after their initial collection (extended from 8 years after Rio 2016) and analysis and retain the same legal effect in the event of re-analysis, investigation and prosecution. The Rio 2016 re-analysis program has been made possible by the IOC’s decision to store all samples collected during the Games since Athens 2004.
The ITA has now launched the re-analysis program for samples collected during the Olympic Games Rio 2016. To ensure that the program is efficient and effective, samples are selected following a comprehensive risk assessment that takes into account a variety of factors, including the physiology of the sport, individual athlete factors, country risk levels and all available information from intelligence and investigations.
The ITA’s re-analysis program for Rio 2016 is organised in two phases. The first phase focuses on samples from athletes who are still actively competing. It is to be completed before the Olympic Games Paris 2024, in parallel with the ITA’s Paris 2024 Pre-Games initiative, to ensure that samples from athletes potentially participating in the upcoming Games are re-analysed before the event. The second phase will take place in 2025 so that all re-analysis including potential results management procedures stemming from positive results, will be performed before the statute of limitations in July 2026.
A dedicated ITA expert group, consisting of laboratory and sports experts from national anti-doping organisations and international federations, has been established and was consulted to help define the strategy for the re-analysis for Rio 2016. As the development of analytical techniques is complex and in order to select the most advanced and efficient types of analysis, the expert group reviewed the current analytical capabilities and compared them with the original analysis situation in 2016. This process was carried out in full cooperation with the anti-doping laboratories in Rio and Lausanne, the latter being responsible for the re-analysis of the samples.
“The ITA is putting together all available initiatives to safeguard the integrity of the Olympic Games”, says ITA Director General Benjamin Cohen. “Launching the re-analysis of samples collected during the Olympic Games Rio 2016 with a focus on athletes who are likely to take part in the Games in Paris next summer will help promote trust and credibility among the athlete community. We work first and foremost for the athletes and must provide them guarantees that if they train hard and clean, they will perform on the Olympic stage on a level playing field with their competitors.”
The ITA has already concluded the re-analysis program for the Olympic Games London 2012, which had been initiated by the IOC before the Games in Rio took place. As a result of this program, 73 Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) were sanctioned leading to the withdrawal of 31 and the reallocation of 46 Olympic medals in four sports. The majority of these positive re-analysis results stemmed from a detection method for anabolic steroids that was introduced after the Games in 2012. This detection method was available to the anti-doping laboratory in Rio for the initial analysis of the samples collected during the Olympic Games in 2016.
COMPOSITION OF THE ITA RIO 2016 RE-ANALYSIS EXPERT GROUP:
Prof. Jean-François Naud (Head of the Montréal Anti-Doping Laboratory)
Dr. Jesús Muños-Guerra Revilla (Head of Testing at the Spanish NADO CELAD)
Prof. Martial Saugy (Antidoping Scientific Advisor, UNIL )
Thomas Capdevielle (Head of Testing and Compliance at AIU)