Olympics: UK anti-doping chief hails ‘innovative’ swimming tests

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – The head of United Kingdom Anti-Doping believes a partnership programme of pre-Olympic drug tests conducted by world swimming governing body FINA and 15 national anti-doping agencies will help “safeguard the integrity” of events in the pool at the Rio Games.

FINA announced a Games ban on seven Russian swimmers on Monday, a day after the International Olympic Committee caused widespread controversy by declining to impose a blanket suspension on Russia, despite evidence of state-sponsored doping, and saying the issue was a matter for international sports federations.

UKAD was one of the national anti-doping agencies (NADOS) involved in a seven-month long initiative prior to the Olympics that aimed to conduct five to seven out-of-competition tests for each nation’s top ten world-ranked male and female swimmers, in every aquatic discipline held at the Games, which begin on August 5.

The NADOS took the lead in their own countries, with FINA co-ordinating testing for top swimmers in nations outside of the partnership.

Nicole Sapstead, the chief executive of UKAD, said in a statement issued Thursday: “The pre-Games collaboration between FINA and 15 national anti-doping organisations is an innovative approach for the anti-doping community. I am delighted that a major international federation has actively engaged with, and sought support from, a large number of NADOs in order to share and effectively use our combined resources.

“By working together, everything is being done to safeguard the integrity of the swimming competition at this year’s Olympic Games.

“I am confident that this project will serve as a catalyst and a blueprint for future collaborations. At a time when the spirit of sport is in danger of being eroded, initiatives like this one stand to show that the global sporting community needs to work together to deliver effective and targeted programmes to protect everyone’s right to clean, fair and honest sport.”

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu added: “FINA strongly believes in this initiative, working together with these leading NADOs from all around the world. It further demonstrates FINA’s commitment towards a coordinated global effort, in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.”

Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev, both 4x100m freestyle bronze-medal winners with the Russian team at the 2012 Olympics, and Yulia Efimova, another 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, were among the seven swimmers banned.

But Efimova, 24, a four-time world breaststroke champion, whose provisional ban for testing positive for meldonium was overturned by FINA in May, will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), her agent Andrei Mitkov told R-Sport.