In addition to the implementation of the doping control process, the collection and investigation of information can also generate evidence of doping. Pursuant to Article 5 of the Wuab and Article 20 of the Dutch National Doping Regulations, Doping Authority Netherlands investigates possible anti-doping rule violations both in the Netherlands and other countries.
In addition to the analytical evidence for doping, the collection and investigation of information are the most important ways of detecting other major violations such as trafficking and supplying. This investigation instrument is still under development (both in the Netherlands and elsewhere) and work continued in 2020 on the development of the basis for this work through the ongoing development and implementation of secure information systems, the extension of the technical systems for the notification desk, a network of partners in the anti-doping world, and the associated procedures.
The current World Anti-Doping Code and the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) refer explicitly to Intelligence & Investigations as a means of tackling the problem of doping. To establish a clearer picture of the extent of that problem and to make sound decisions about the approach to, and investigation of, anti-doping rule violations, Doping Authority Netherlands is following the example of many investigation services by working with a more intelligence-based approach.
An Intelligence Officer was at work in the Enforcement & Investigations department of Doping Authority Netherlands for a large part of the year.
The work of the Intelligence Officer included collating information in the context of investigations of doping violations, drafting reports, conducting interviews and taking statements, organising and processing confidential data in an automated system, and the development of procedures and protocols.
Adopting an intelligence-based approach allows Doping Authority Netherlands to fulfil its investigation role more effectively. The intelligence process consists of four phases – collection, registration, working up and analysis – which have to be implemented meticulously. Much of the relevant information is collected during doping controls. Information such as observations and findings from DCOs and other Doping Authority staff is stored in secure systems.
These data are worked up and interpreted. The information is then combined with other existing intelligence and data (scientific and otherwise). The insights gained from this are used by the Enforcement & Investigations Department for:
- planning doping controls both in and out of competition;
- identifying violations of the doping regulations;
- disciplinary proceedings;
- its own observations and additions to existing files that are not disciplinary procedures.
Results in 2020
The position of Intelligence Officer was vacant for the first six months of 2020. The work was done as much as possible by the entire Enforcement & Investigations team. As a result, less open-source information was collected during this period. 'Indicators' – the acquired information that gave rise to suspicions of possible doping – were given priority in the planning of the control programme.
An Intelligence Officer was in place in the last two quarters of the year. As a result, the collection of data (including open-source data) has returned to its previous level. Information was obtained from media reports, other open sources, findings of DCOs and/or conspicuous performance by athletes, etc. It is now also possible to make an assessment in advance of lists of participants at competitions/events in order to conduct more targeted controls. The relevant information collected was shared with members of staff involved in the planning of doping controls.
Systems and working methods were also developed or further developed with the aim of improving the registration, analysis and retrieval of information.
Visitors to the website www.dopingautoriteit.nl/meldpunt can submit reports about possible doping violations. They can also use the link to obtain information about the procedure and the subjects for reporting. People submitting reports can, among other things, complete a web form and, if they wish, report on a completely anonymous basis. Extensive technical measures are in place to ensure that anonymity is safeguarded as much as possible. This is one way in which Doping Authority Netherlands is complying with the requirements set out in the WADA Code - Whistleblower Regulations.
Seventeen reports by external parties about possible anti-doping rule violations were received by Doping Authority Netherlands in 2020. That is three times as many as in 2019, undoubtedly in connection with the corona crisis. The content of the reports varies from doping use and facilitation to trafficking.
The reports related to fourteen different sports and they came from different sources: an athlete/fellow-athlete, the sports association, the Dutch Centre for Safe Sports, the Doping Reporting Centre (Meldpunt Doping) and NADOs in other countries. The reports were made in person, by telephone, in writing, by WhatsApp and in emails. There were suspicions of doping use in ten cases, a suspicion of facilitating doping in four cases, a suspicion of trafficking in five cases and a report in one case related to conduct that did not constitute a doping violation. In addition, there were six cases that were not covered by the above categories, such as reports about websites that sell illegal medicines or reports in response to media reports. In addition to the reports from external sources referred to here, Doping Authority Netherlands also received nine reports from internal sources. These were reports that reached the Intelligence Officer via colleagues.
All reports were investigated by the Intelligence Officer and the results of those investigations were covered in the discussions about cases under investigation in the Enforcement & Investigations department. On the basis of those discussions, testing strategies were drawn up where relevant for each case and decisions were made about the focus of subsequent intelligence activities.
Collaboration with government services and fellow anti-doping organisations
The I&I information supplied by Doping Authority Netherlands is classified using an international system that rates the information in terms of the reliability of the information and the reliability of the source. In 2020, information was supplied to the Dutch Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ), NVWA-IOD, and fellow anti-doping organisations such as UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and NADO Flanders.
By contrast to the situation with respect to the doping control process, Doping Authority Netherlands is dependent on the cooperation of organisations other than sports organisations, in particular government investigation and enforcement organisations, for the implementation of the statutory task referred to in Article 5 of the Wuab. The development and expansion of good collaborative relationships with these organisations is therefore of major importance. A start was made in 2019 on the development of collaboration with chain partners such as the IGJ, the NVWA-IOD, the Police, the FIOD, the customs authorities and the Public Prosecutions Service by agreeing collaboration protocols. Unfortunately, it should also be noted that many forms of collaboration that could contribute to a more effective implementation of this statutory task are problematic in legal terms.
A new form of collaboration has been established with the customs authorities on the basis of the protocol. In addition, there are good contacts with the NVWA-IOD and so knowledge and information can be shared with chain partners in order to contribute to the expertise in national investigations relating to prohibited substances (initiated by chain partners). Doping Authority Netherlands continues emphatically to seek ever closer cooperation with investigation and enforcement bodies.
- 2019: number of reports: 25
- 2019: number of sports: 11
- 2019: number: 13
- 2019: number: 3
- 2019: number: 2
- 2019: number: 3
- Doping Authority Netherlands can, without the cooperation of other organisations, only collect and process information that comes from open sources or that is reported to Doping Authority Netherlands.