Anti-doping testing numbers over the past season are a “great source of worry” according to the Movement for Credible Cycling, with the coronavirus pandemic significantly reducing the number of controls that have taken place in 2020.
The Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) recorded a 90% fall in out-of-competition tests in the two months following the start of the pandemic, with 12 anti-doping violations recorded in cycling this year. This is fewer than in 2019, but the MPCC is concerned that the anti-doping picture doesn’t seem to be improving.
“Because of the global pandemic, MPCC is fully aware that these figures are altered by a lower number of anti-doping tests carried out through the year. Though, reality can sometimes be unsettling,” the MPCC said.
“Multiple international federations agree with this unpleasant statement. The Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) admitted a 90 per cent decrease in the out-of-competition tests during the two months following the start of the pandemic compared to the same period last year.”
Their statement continues, saying this is a trend seen across all sports except track and field.
“Cycling had to deal with a dozen of cases (two within World Teams), a lower figure than last year at the same time, but still very close to the data of the last five years. This last observation is a great source of worry for MPCC, given the lower number of tests in 2020.”
WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli, explains that even though testing has been reduced, it doesn’t automatically mean athletes are cheating, and that they will be working to identify holes in testing before the Tokyo Olympics next year.
“The fact that testing has reduced in itself is not, you know, the end of the fight against doping or, you know, means automatically that people are cheating. As we said also, you don’t become a cheater overnight, I mean there’s a mental process and a decision that you need to be taking,” Niggli said.
“It’s [not] because you are stuck in your living room and suddenly you’re going to start taking something and in particular the effect of doping while you can’t train is not great. So, I think we have to put that into perspective. This being said, yes, I mean there is a concern and we need to be alerted to the fact that, you know, potentially there are some possible holes at the moment given the situation and that’s what I was saying earlier, that one of our tasks is to work with our partners to identify these holes in particular in advance of a major competition – that will be the Olympic Games next year.
“So, we’re going to be monitoring with federation and others to make sure that, you know, those who need to be tested are tested. But I think, that’s, we need to be alerted to that but it’s, I don’t think we should overplay the situation.”