Anti-doping chiefs cut Ukraine slack over ‘non-conformities’
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said previous “non-conformities” concerning the Ukrainian anti-doping system would be “provisionally excused” because of the circumstances of the conflict with Russia.
WADA announced in October of last year that an extensive investigation into operations at the National Anti-Doping Center of Ukraine (NADC) had found irregularities concerning testing.
As part of the case, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) initiated a procedure against the NADC in an effort to bring standards into line.
On Friday, WADA issued an update on the situation after a meeting of its Executive Committee (ExCo) in Sydney, suggesting that the conflict with Russia meant that any progress was in a state of limbo.
“The ExCo decided to provisionally excuse the previously communicated non-conformities of the National Anti-Doping Center of Ukraine (NADC) for reasons of force majeure,” read a statement.
The message added that the hostilities with Russia “continue to prevent NADC’s timely correction of its non-conformities.”
“WADA will continue to monitor the situation and the CRC will reassess the case once force majeure no longer applies,” it added.
“The ExCo was informed also that the individuals identified in WADA’s report outlining the non-conformities in Ukraine are no longer involved in the NADC.”
WADA’s CRC first suspended its recommendation of non-compliance for Ukraine following the onset of Moscow’s military campaign back in February, again describing the step as necessary due to “force majeure.”
Issues surrounding Ukrainian anti-doping procedures were highlighted in October 2021, when WADA’s independent Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Department published its report into allegations of malpractice.
Known as ‘Operation Hercules’, a lengthy investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that Ukrainian anti-doping officials had contravened WADA standards by providing advance notice to athletes of testing – removing a fundamental element of an effective system.
It added that there was “compelling” evidence that in 2021 the NADC “knowingly reported at least six in-competition samples as out-of-competition samples, in contravention of various articles of the World Anti-Doping Code and the ISTI (International Standard for Testing and Investigations).”
“Operation Hercules has raised serious questions about the integrity of NADC’s testing practices and the competence of some staff,” said WADA I&I director Gunter Younger at the time.
“Moreover, the apparent longevity and brazenness of these practices suggests significant organizational failings within NADC,” he added.