2020 targets largely achieved despite Corona
Antidoping Switzerland’s business year 2020 was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the high level of flexibility among employees, the majority of the targets were achieved, while maintaining the prescribed quality, although temporary restrictions had to be accepted in the testing activities.
Doping controls in compliance with protection concepts
The testing activity was significantly affected by COVID-19 during the reporting year, which meant that fewer doping controls could be carried out than planned. However, with the implementation of protection concepts, the testing activity never grounded to a complete standstill. Thus, despite difficult conditions, 1,538 doping controls were carried out during the reporting year, which corresponds to 76% of the previous year. 1,194 test were carried out out-of-competition and 389 in-competition. The numerous last-minute postponements and cancellations of competitions and unclear plans of the athletes for the season made the task of coordinating doping controls substantially more difficult.
Re-analysis of long-term stored samples
A total of 109 re-analyses were performed in 87 urine and blood samples from the years 2012 to 2016 and from various sports. In collaboration with the analytical laboratory in Lausanne, the samples were specifically selected on the basis of various criteria. Among other things, international incidents in the respective sports, developmental steps in analytical technology, and new findings on prohibited substances were taken into account. The results of the re-analyses were consistently negative, in other words, no prohibited substances were detected when the doping samples were reanalyzed.
Ten violations of the anti-doping rules
The Disciplinary Chamber for Doping Cases (DC) of Swiss Olympic issued 10 decisions in the year under review. This resulted in nine sanctions, ranging from a warning to a 48-month suspension. Seven cases concerned the use, attempted use or possession of anabolic steroids or hormones and metabolic modulators. One case was related to the ingestion of various anabolic steroids, and in another instance, EPO was detected.
Expansion of international investigations
The strategic development of the Intelligence department has been furthered in the reporting year with the focus being on collaboration with the various law enforcement authorities, but also on the organization’s own investigative activities. Antidoping Switzerland was able to instigate various investigations at an international level during the reporting year, considerably contributing to their success. These investigations were often based on reports of suspected cases passed on by informants or so-called whistle-blowers.
Doping prevention becomes more digital
COVID-19 also impacted the prevention activities. The education formats had to be adapted to the ever-changing conditions and the majority was digitized. In total, around 1,400 athletes were educated in face-to-face lessons and just under 9,000 people were trained through digital prevention measures. Antidoping Switzerland's new and fully redesigned website set a new record with almost 210,000 visits. At the end of the year, Antidoping Switzerland provided all national sports federations with an anti-doping section for their websites in order to provide easier access to relevant information for all athletes and interested parties.
Intensive planning due to Olympics postponement
After the testing intensity was able to return to "normal level" from August 2020 thanks to secure protection concepts and intensive planning, even more intensive planning work is on the agenda this year. The reason for this is the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which now fall in the same calendar year as the preparation phase for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. For the prevention sector, the supervision and training of two delegations will also mean an increased coordination effort.
New strategic leadership and further development
In January, the Foundation Board around President Ulrich Kurmann, newly constituted by the Sports Parliament, began its work. In the fight against doping, the athletes' perspective is to be brought in more strongly and the focus is to be directed even more towards the areas of prevention and investigation. The newly signed framework agreements with the Federal Office of Sport (FOSPO) and with Swiss Olympic provide Antidoping Switzerland with additional financial resources in stages over the medium-term, which are extremely important for the core strategic areas of the new Doping Statute. One of the most frequently cited issues, not just among Swiss athletes, is the improvement of equal opportunities through an ongoing expansion of the global anti-doping campaign. In the future, Antidoping Switzerland will, within the limits of its possibilities, develop its profile on an international level to improve equal opportunities for all Swiss athletes.