UKAD in hot water after data shows ‘absurdly low’ levels of sample re-tests across all sports and NONE in football
- UK anti-doping are shown to carry out a worryingly small number of re-tests
- Athletes’ samples should be kept and retested using improved technology
- Data shows UKAD retested only 120 samples in all sports up to January 2020
- It was also shown that not a single re-test was carried out in football
UK Anti-Doping have come under question after data emerged of the ‘absurdly low’ number of samples they have retested since the agency was founded in 2009.
Retesting old blood or urine samples of athletes is an effective tool to catch drug cheats because technology advances means previously undetectable substances could be uncovered.
However, data released under the Freedom of Information Act show that UKAD only retested 120 samples in all sports up to January 2020 – and not a single one in football.
UK Anti-Doping have come under question after data emerged of the ‘absurdly low’ number of samples they have retested
UKAD increased retesting at the start of this year, partly because of the scheduled summer Olympics in Tokyo, with an additional 281 samples retested between January and October.
But that is still far less than other major national anti-doping organisations, including Australia’s, which retested 1,300 samples in the last four years.
Robin Parisotto, the Australian world-leading anti-doping expert, told the Sports Integrity Initiative: ‘The UKAD retest numbers appear absurdly low. It certainly raises serious concerns. I believe that an explanation is warranted.’
UKAD began storing selected blood and urine samples in 2011 and they can hold them for up to 10 years. Up to January 2020, they retested only one sample in cricket, one in tennis, five in boxing, 14 in rugby union, 21 in athletics, 22 in rugby league and 39 in cycling.
Responding to the findings, UKAD director of operations Pat Myhill said: ‘UKAD completes more tests in football than any other sport and operates one of the world’s most extensive testing programmes. UKAD runs a rigorous testing programme which is directed through risk assessment and based on intelligence to direct our finite resources to the greatest threats to clean sport.
‘Comparisons with other anti-doping organisations and their reanalysis rates does not offer an accurate assessment of a successful programme. UKAD’s reanalysis strategy is evidence-based and guided by the support from the scientific community. UKAD constantly assess its reanalysis programme to best protect clean sport.’
UKAD came under fire in January when they refused to hand over Sir Mo Farah’s blood and urine samples to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into the Nike Oregon Project without ‘credible evidence’ to suggest they might contain a banned substance.
In the last financial year, UKAD carried out 10,455 tests. But the number of tests were dramatically reduced in the first quarter of this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with only 126 tests between April and June – and none involving boxers, tennis or rugby league players.