2018 Winter Olympics: IOC sees over 20,000 drugs tests in Pyeongchang lead-up


IOC medical chief says there will be a lot more in coming two or three months

SEOUL: More than 20,000 doping tests will have been conducted by the start of the next year’s Pyeongchang winter Olympics as the International Olympic Committee’s pre-games testing programme hopes to root out cheats in advance, it said on Tuesday.

Russian athletes are among those targeted most with the nation awaiting the IOC decision on its participation at February’s Pyeongchang winter Olympics following the widespread doping scandal in the country. “It is 7,000 (total) tests so far until November on 4,000 athletes,” IOC medical chief Richard Budgett told reporters.

“There will be a lot more in the coming two or three months as we are in the winter season. I suspect the total number of tests will be 20,000,” he said. The targeted pre-games testing task force, jointly run by WADA, the IOC and winter and summer sports federations, advises federations and National Olympic committees to test specific athletes.

“The Russian athletes have been tested more than other by a considerable margin,” Budgett said. “Requirements have been issued to the international federations and RUSADA (Russian anti-doping agency) for the level of testing of those athletes,” he said. Russia has been in the spotlight since a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission in 2015 found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia and accused it of systematically violating anti-doping regulations.

In 2016, a WADA report found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors in more than 30 sports had been involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a five-year period. In the last month, the IOC’s own commission has banned more than 20 Russian athletes from the Olympics for life over doping violations at the 2014 Winter Games that Russia hosted in Sochi. WADA has said that Russia remains non-compliant with its code.

Kremlin to defend athletes against doping allegations

Russia will defend its athletes against doping allegations and work to preserve its ties with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. The IOC is set to decide later on the level of Russia’s participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as calls to ban the country over suspected state-sponsored doping grow louder.

“We intend to defend the interests of our athletes, of the Russian Federation, to remain committed to the ideals of Olympism and preserve all ties with the IOC, and through these ties the problems that have arisen will be resolved,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. On Monday, Peskov said that Russia was not planning to boycott the Olympics if the IOC imposed restrictions on the country’s participation.

More than 20 athletes have been banned for life from the Olympics in the past weeks over alleged doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Games. The bans came as a result of an IOC investigation into allegations of widespread doping among Russians and sample tampering by laboratory and security officials at the Sochi Olympics.

The Russian authorities have vehemently denied any state involvement in doping and pledged to work with international sports bodies to curb the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs in the country. Russia’s Paralympic Committee, athletics federation and anti-doping agency RUSADA remain suspended over doping scandals.