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According to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the top-eight athletes in each event experienced an average of 4.8 out-of-competition (OOC) drug tests during the lead-up to the Eugene World Athletics Championships.
AIU’s, David Howman’s press release
According to an AIU press release on August 3, “Shining a Light — Thought Leadership,” by AIU Chair David Howman, “…with almost 2,000 competitors, many of whom would not have been in any testing pool and therefore not subject to OOC testing. Consequently, a third of the 1,719 athletes in Eugene had zero OOC tests in the ten months prior to the event. However, this number drops dramatically to just six per cent for the top-eight finishers (the finalists) in individual events. Another key finding was that only 39% of the athletes had three or more OOC tests, but this number rises to 81% for the top-eight finishers.”
AIU Chair David Howman highlights the importance of Out-of-Competition testing in this AIU Thought Leadership article, focusing on OOC team testing data (for teams of 10 or more athletes) before last year’s World Championships.— Athletics Integrity Unit (@aiu_athletics) August 3, 2023
Details here: https://t.co/gy4J3oTyHb pic.twitter.com/dTn9Osh50R
While there is the suggestion in the athletics community that the top athletes may somehow be protected, it appears that the top athletes — the finalists in respective events — are targeted in the lead-up to the competition and after where they may have fewer tests OOC.
Approximately 500 elite athletes are selected each year on AIU’s Registered Testing Pool.
According to Howman, one-third of the 1,719 athletes in Eugene had zero OOC tests in the ten months prior to the event.
Sixteen per cent of athletes in Eugene had no testing leading into the event and this number shrinks to just one per cent for the top-eight finishers.
Under the framework of Rule 15, governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions. Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing of the ‘Category A’ National Federations which are deemed to have the highest doping risk and are considered a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice, out-of-competition tests (urine and blood), conducted no less than three weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event. Only then do such athletes become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.
Kenya, for example, is listed as Category A. Kenyan athletes have tested positive much more than athletes from most other countries, this is likely in part of the number of athletes who qualify for major competitions and the sheer volume of testing. No doubt though, Kenya is listed as Category A for good reason.
There are currently seven Category A countries: Kenya, Belarus, Bahrain, Morocco, Ethiopia, Ukraine and Nigeria.
Kenya is not the most suspended…
Currently, there are 65 Kenyan athletes who are not eligible to compete in athletics due to a positive drug test, missing three tests in a 12-month period (whereabouts) or manipulation of information around tests and appeals of provisional suspensions. Additionally, there are anomalies in Athlete Biological Passports, which will set off a provisional suspension, without an athlete testing positive.
Morocco has 24 out. Despite the popular belief that Kenya has the most suspended athletes next to Russia, which has a blanket ban on their entire program, it is India with 88 ineligible athletes, according to the AIU’s GLOBAL LIST OF INELIGIBLE PERSONS dated July 1, 2023. Eighteen Americans are ineligible and just one Canadian. The complete list is available here.
As the AIU recently warned, don’t be alarmed if more Kenyan athletes receive provisional suspensions, this is part of the process. Surely, more will be announced soon.