Anti-Doping Operation LIMS Update: WADA Has Sent 61 Adverse Findings To 28 International Federations

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Anti-Doping Operation LIMS Continues To Unearth Adverse Findings

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation into 298 Russian athletes connected to anti-doping results that previously been hidden from the global watchdog, has produced 61 adverse findings across 28 sports so far as part of anti-doping Operation LIMS.

An update on WADA‘s investigation increased the adverse findings files from 57 to 61, involving 29 Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs), 28 of those international federations. One “Major Event Organization” has also been informed of cases on its watch that may lead to doping charges.

All 29 organizations have now been sent “detailed case packages” outlining findings that suggest they should “consider taking forward” as Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs). It is understood that FINA is one of those international federations.

The increases were revealed in an update on anti-doping Operation LIMS to WADA Board members by Gunter Younger, the Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Director.

It was not all bad news for those having samples and data reanalysed. 153 of the 298 athletes targeted in anti-doping  Operation LIMS “are unaffected by the alleged manipulation that resulted in a non-compliance case being brought by WADA against RUSADA”, said the global watchdog.

The alleged manipulation of the data relates to the files of 145 athletes within the target group of 298. “… an impact of almost 50%”, noted WADA.

Inquiries into 298 Russian athletes concluded on April 30 but reanalysis and further investigation of 24 terabytes of anti-doping data said by WADA to have been manipulated at the WADA-accredited – and of late suspended – Moscow anti-doping laboratory continues.

Since WADA I&I missions to Russia in January 2019 and April 2019 to retrieve a copy of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), associated raw data and samples from the former Moscow Laboratory, investigators have “been compiling evidence packages in respect of individual cases”, WADA noted, adding:

“As announced on 2 July 2019, from the data, WADA I&I identified a target pool of 298 athletes and has painstakingly built cases for each relevant organization to consider taking forward. The evidence that identified the target group was based on information within the Moscow LIMS database obtained by WADA I&I, evidence from the 2016 WADA-commissioned McLaren Investigation, as well as the retrieved samples.”

WADA I&I held explanatory webinars with the relevant ADOs on April 29 and 30 “to explain the content of the case packages that were sent to them beforehand, and to explain how to use them to determine whether to pursue Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) against the athletes involved”. WADA further explained:

“The evidence available for each package is different, and the relevant organizations will have to decide in each case whether to bring it forward as an ADRV or not. WADA will review and discuss the facts with each ADO. WADA will also review the decisions rendered by the ADOs and appeal, if appropriate, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”

WADA sent a strong message to International federations that if it found a lack of action where it thought action was required, it would take matters to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS): “In addition, WADA has the option under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), where no decision is rendered in a reasonable timeframe, to bring cases directly to CAS.”

Director of WADA I&I Gunter Younger said: “The fact that we have moved to the results management phase now for the entire target group means we are another step closer to bringing those who cheated to justice. This has always been the objective for us as we continue to do what is best for clean sport and athletes around the world.”

WADA president Witold Bańka said:

“This has been the most complex enquiry in anti-doping history and WADA’s investigations team has been doing an outstanding job. It has been a huge undertaking, involving thousands of samples, 24 terabytes of data(2), hundreds of athletes … and it is delivering real results. The Russian doping crisis has dominated WADA’s time and resources over the past five years and the Agency’s investigations team has been on the frontline. I would like to thank them for their diligence, professionalism and expertise, as well as the organizations that have now received case packages for the work they will do and their ongoing cooperation in protecting clean sport and for bringing as many cheats to justice as possible.”

WADA’s Executive Committee voted on December 9 last year to adopt a recommendation from the Agency’s independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) to declare RUSADA non-compliant for a period of four years. That case is now pending before CAS.

WADA cannot yet name the athletes nor the federations that have received case packages. The anti-doping watchdog noted:

“Under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), WADA is not at liberty to divulge the names of the individual sports and organizations that received the evidentiary packages at this stage of the results management process. All relevant information and outcomes of cases will be published in due course once the process is complete, as required under the Code.

“Furthermore, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics continues to conduct its own investigations after WADA I&I last year provided it with the LIMS and raw data for all relevant athletes, including those who are part of WADA I&I’s target group. Following that formal handover from WADA I&I, the AIU has taken the lead in building cases and identifying ADRVs, where appropriate.”

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