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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has released an Independent Observer (IO) report on drug testing that was conducted at Tokyo Olympic Games.

The anti-doping program of the Olympic Games was carried out by the International Testing Agency (ITA) on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Meanwhile, the anti-doping program of the Paralympic Games was carried out by the International Paralympic Committee.

The IOC set up the ITA in 2018. The purpose was to outsource most of its anti-doping program to the not-for-profit agency, which was formally established under Swiss law in February 2018.

IO Team Chair for the Olympic Games, Francesca Rossi, director of testing of the National Anti-Doping Agency of France, said in the report, “The anti-doping program, was robust and comprehensive in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards.” 

It may appear that in comparison to the Rio and London Olympic Games, results from tests are slow to come out. For example, according to the latest Athletics Integrity Unity (AIU) suspensions, the last to be doled out was to American Shelby Houlihan from July 2021. One may assume that part of the apparent delay may have to do with a lack of doping control officers in Tokyo due to travel restrictions because of Covid-19.

However, as planned there were over 6000 samples collected during the schedule. During the Paralympic games, there were also 2,174 samples collected during the Paralympic Games.

In addition to the Covid-19 challenges, the report indicates accuracy with whereabouts information from athletes were an issue. Also, the implementation of a new paperless system was a problem. The fact that at least 40 per cent of the testers were unable to travel indeed posed problems with the process. The doping control officers who were available were apparently overworked.

There is a statute of limitations to testing of 10 years and a storage capacity of 10 years. The benefit for testing agencies, WADA, and the AIU to the long-term testing and re-testing period means seeking new performance-enhancing drugs and methods and finding more effective ways to test, puts the testing ahead of the dopers, eventually.

The London Games were a prime example, first touted as the cleanest Games of all time, the opposite became true over the course of the following eight years. The statute of limitations from the 2012 London Olympic Games was eight years. Testing and re-testing continued until well into 2020.

Over 5,000 blood and urine samples were taken in London. The testing and re-testing led to a record number of disqualifications. This continued into 2020.

There now is no escape from the long arm of the law. Expect more to come from the Tokyo Olympic Games.