CONTROLS IN PRACTICE

General

In early 2021, the Enforcement and Investigations Department continued to work on the recommendations deriving from WADA’s Code Compliance Audit and the updated International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) effective 2021. In 2021, Doping Authority Netherlands amended its risk analysis of sports in the Netherlands and adjusted its test distribution plan accordingly. The plan also included potential candidates for participation in the 2021 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo and the Winter Olympic Games in early 2022. In 2021, the frequency of testing per whereabouts athlete increased and the focus has shifted to national-level athletes.

For the second consecutive calendar year, implementation was severely impacted by the COVID pandemic and its consequences. Not only were several employees and their immediate circles affected by the virus, the measures taken to limit the spread of the pandemic also had a far-reaching impact on the usual testing activities. Once again, sports came to a temporary halt, and testing at the national and international levels was possible only on a limited basis for several months and subject to strict COVID measures. Partly for this reason, it was not possible to implement the planned range of activities in full. This problem was discussed with both financiers (the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and NOC*NSF) at an early stage.

Considerable attention was also paid to the whereabouts system. Some elite athletes, if they are members of national or international registered testing pools, are required to report some of the residential locations associated with their daily activities to Doping Authority Netherlands or the international federation.

Intelligence & Investigations is housed with the Enforcement & Investigations department. The merger of the Doping Control and Intelligence & Investigations processes resulted in direct exchanges of information and optimal collaboration. See Chapter 3 for more about Intelligence & Investigations.

Doping controls are the main tool at our disposal for investigating anti-doping rule violations but they are also important in terms of prevention. This chapter reports on the number of anti-doping rule violations identified on the basis of doping controls and on the nature of those violations. However, it is not known how many athletes refrain from doping use or stop in response to the doping control programme.

Registered Testing Pool (RTP)

On the basis of the amended World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) and the associated International Standards, Doping Authority Netherlands has established a Registered Testing Pool (RTP) on the basis of a risk assessment that was revised in 2021. Athletes in this RTP are required to comply with a number of obligations. For example, before using medicines on the prohibited list, they must apply for a therapeutic use exemption from the TUE committee. They must also provide whereabouts information and attend an education session organised by Doping Authority Netherlands.

There were eight sports associations with athletes in the RTP in 2021. That is less than in 2020 (14 sports associations). The number of athletes in the RTP was also slightly lower than in 2020: 269 athletes at the beginning of 2021 as opposed to 388 athletes at the beginning of 2020. Once again in 2021, athletes were only required to provide whereabouts information to one organisation: either Doping Authority Netherlands or the international federation. Doping Authority Netherlands uses the whereabouts module of the global administration and management system ADAMS and the app developed by WADA in-house (Athlete Central). In 2021, Doping Authority Netherlands also drew extensively on information from external sources such as the websites of national and international federations, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to determine where athletes were to be found.

Controls conducted - general

Doping Authority Netherlands conducted two types of doping control for Dutch sports in 2021: controls in the context of the Dutch national programme, and doping controls on behalf and for the account of third parties, including Dutch and international federations, event organisers, foreign National Anti-Doping Organisations and professional sports organisations. The responsibilities of Doping Authority Netherlands also included controls pursuant to official records, target controls when there were specific suspicions, and various types of follow-up investigations. Controls in the Netherlands included not only Dutch athletes, but also athletes from other countries who were present in the Netherlands. They were sometimes conducted on behalf of other Anti-Doping Organisations.

The national programme – underlying principles

The annual plan for 2021 included a national programme of some 2,700 doping controls. A percentage of the available controls were earmarked for target controls, follow-up investigations, and for doping controls pursuant to records and fulfilling official limits. On the basis of the formulated policy, Doping Authority Netherlands assigned most of the available controls beforehand to the different sports associations. The distribution of the available doping controls between the Dutch sports associations (the ‘Test Distribution Plan’) is based on a risk analysis that was revised in 2021. This comprehensive risk analysis includes parameters such as: sport-specific physiological characteristics, relevant doping substances, medal opportunities and incentives, national sport context, doping history, anti-doping trends & scientific research, available intelligence, the outcomes of previous testing plans, and the seasonal and career progression of the athlete. This risk analysis is repeated at regular intervals. On the basis of the outcome, sports are allocated to risk classes that are used to assign the number of doping controls and type of doping control.

The national programme – implementation

The standard for the number of doping controls to be carried out under the national programme was 2,700 doping controls in 2021. As a result of the global COVID pandemic and its national impact on society in general and sport in particular, the implementation of doping controls has run up against a range of challenges, obstacles and difficulties.

In 2021, 2,397 controls were conducted as part of the national testing programme (the national programme implemented in 2020 consisted of 1,505 doping controls). The overwhelming majority (1,880) were urine controls. There were also 517 blood controls in 2021, for example in the context of the Athlete Biological Passport. This was double the number in 2020 (+99%). This increase can be explained by the almost complete suspension of the testing programme during the first lockdown in 2020.

The 2,397 doping controls conducted for the national programme covered the Olympic/Paralympic summer sports to a large extent and the Olympic/Paralympic winter sports to a slightly lower extent.

Doping controls in the National Programme: the top five

  1. Rowing
  2. Cycling
  3. Skating
  4. Athletics
  5. Swimming

The percentage of out-of-competition controls (blood and urine) in the national programme was 79%. This was substantially more than in 2020 (+65%). This increase is mainly attributable to the large-scale cancellation of competitions and events due to the COVID pandemic in 2020. Of the 2,397 doping controls (blood and urine) conducted for sports in the Netherlands, 1,285 involved men (54%) and 1,112 women (46%).

Doping controls for third parties

The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) financed an additional testing programme alongside the national programme for the Dutch competition.

Various sports organisations have purchased additional controls from Doping Authority Netherlands for international events in the Netherlands. A large proportion of the assignments for which quotations were given were not executed due to the cancellation of events as a result of the pandemic and the related government regulations.

A total of 352 doping controls were conducted on the basis of assignments from third parties, an increase by a factor of 2.26 compared with 2020, when this category amounted to 156 controls. This increase can be attributed to the fact that the COVID pandemic and the related government policy involved severe constraints, particularly in the earlier months of 2021. In the second part of the year, many events and competitions resumed their regular pre-COVID schedule, with increased demand as a result.

The majority of the additional doping controls conducted for Dutch and foreign associations and organisers were in-competition controls (60%). Of the doping controls for third parties, 61% involved men and 39% involved women.

Doping controls - total

The controls for the national control programme and the controls for third parties together make up the total testing programme in 2021. A total of 2,749 doping controls were conducted.

Table 2.1 General overview of doping controls conducted in 2021
Doping controls conducted by Doping Authority NetherlandsUrineBloodTotal
Doping controls conducted for Dutch sport (Dutch national programme)1,8805172,397
Doping controls conducted for foreign sports organisations and other organisations25993352
Total conducted by Doping Authority Netherlands2,1396102,749
Table 2.1b Number of doping controls
Number of doping controls20212020
National programme (Netherlands)2,3971,505
On behalf of third parties352156
Total2,3971,661

Total number of doping controls: the top five

  1. Cycling
  2. Rowing
  3. Athletics
  4. Skating
  5. Swimming

The total number of 2,749 doping controls for Dutch sports and sports organisations was considerably higher than in 2020, when there were 1,661 doping controls.

Table 2.2: Overview of the number of doping controls in 2021
SportNational Programme (Netherlands)Conducted for third partiesTotal conducted
UrineBloodTotalUrineBloodTotalUrineBloodTotal
Athletics2444328724204426863331
Badminton1201200012012
Basketball6306310164064
Billiard sports202000202
Bobsleigh303000303
Boccia707000707
Boxing3403400034034
Bridge303000303
Curling1101100011011
Draughts101000101
Weightlifting202000202
Golf202101303
Gymnastics4004010141041
Handball2202240426026
Archery1301300013013
Hockey610612242683487
Baseball2202200022022
Inline skating707000707
Judo9209200092092
Canoeing909000909
Karate1201200012012
Korfball1101100011011
Mixed Martial Arts0213213
Equestrian sports4004000040040
Para-alpine skiing606000606
Para-athletics6106100061061
Para-snowboarding303000303
Para-swimming2242600022426
Power lifting4004000040040
Lifesaving808000808
Rowing226224450000226224450
Rugby4004000040040
Speed skating2069530150521195306
Fencing707000707
Skateboarding707000707
Skiing404000404
Shooting808000808
Angling 0 202202
Taekwondo202000202
Table tennis808000808
Tennis2502500025025
Triathlon351247000351247
Football65065390391040104
Volleyball2502500025025
Cycling21313634910465169317201518
Wrestling202000202
Sailing2302300023023
Swimming1313134543571856191
Total1,8805172,397259933522,1396102,749
Table 2.3: Number of in-competition and out-of-competition controls in 2021
SportIn competitionOut of competition
UrineBloodTotalUrineBloodTotal
Athletics109010915963222
Badminton00012012
Basketball00064064
Billiard sports000202
Bobsleigh000303
Boccia000707
Boxing1201222022
Bridge000303
Curling505606
Draughts000101
Weightlifting000202
Golf000303
Gymnastics40437037
Handball40422022
Archery00013013
Hockey2743156056
Baseball90913013
Inline skating707000
Judo1601676076
Canoeing000909
Karate606606
Korfball606505
Mixed Martial Arts000213
Equestrian sports00040040
Para-alpine skiing000606
Para-athletics1601645045
Para-snowboarding000303
Para-swimming40418422
Power lifting1701723023
Lifesaving808000
Rowing32032194224418
Rugby 2802812012
Skating8889612387210
Fencing606101
Skateboarding000707
Skiing000404
Shooting808000
Angling202000
Taekwondo000202
Table tennis000808
Tennis50520020
Triathlon12012231235
Football6406440040
Volleyball00025025
Cycling1215126196196392
Wrestling000202
Sailing00023023
Swimming86389993102
Total7022072214375902027

Whereabouts failures

A total of 80 final whereabouts failures noted in 2021 were registered by Doping Authority Netherlands. Whereabouts failures can be either missed tests (when the athlete is not present at the stated location in the 60 minute time slot) or filing failures (the failure to comply with the obligation to supply adequate whereabouts information correctly and in good time).
The number of whereabouts failures was a factor 3.33 higher in 2021 than in 2020 (when there were 24 cases). The International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) 2021 and the associated Technical Document for Sport Specific Analysis (TDSSA), together with the risk analysis for sport in the Netherlands that was amended in 2021, led to an increase in the frequency of testing for athletes with a whereabouts obligation. On top of that, as a result of the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the Winter Olympics in early 2022, the focus of the controls has shifted to out-of-competition controls.

Second whereabouts failures were registered for 12 athletes in 2021. A first whereabouts failure was registered in 2020 for two of those athletes. No third whereabouts failures were registered for any athletes.

The leading numbers of whereabouts failures in 2021 were accounted for by the Judo Association, the Athletics Union, and the Royal Dutch Rowing Federation in that order. It should be pointed out that associations with a large number of athletes in the Registered Testing Pool are also more likely to have athletes who fail to meet whereabouts obligations. In 2020, the Athletics Union was also the association with most whereabouts failures.

Doping controls that did not take place

In addition to the controls that did not take place due to a missed test, a substantial number of planned doping controls failed to take place in 2021 for other reasons, including the COVID pandemic:

  • the suspension of competitions, cancellation of events and the closing of training facilities;
  • a lack of capacity to implement the assignment within the specified time frame;
  • athletes/teams were absent from events and competitions and central training sessions which they were expected to attend;
  • the doping control official (DCO) went to a training session or competition, and it then emerged that the training session or competition had been cancelled or moved;
  • a doping control official visited a stated address and the athlete proved to be absent during the control window or was not/no longer resident at the address (in the case of doping controls for which the athlete in question was not required to supply whereabouts information).

These included both out-of-competition and in-competition controls. When doping controls were not conducted, efforts were made to find an appropriate moment as quickly as possible thereafter to conduct the control in question after all, where appropriate by scheduling controls at an event of a comparable size, if such an event was available.

Sport-specific analyses

On the basis of a risk analysis, the relevant standards of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) for sports and sports disciplines include a specific calculation for the minimum percentages required for additional laboratory analyses. WADA’s Technical Document for Sport Specific Analysis (TDSSA) includes binding provisions that apply to National Anti-Doping Organisations, including Doping Authority Netherlands. The analyses relate to, among other things, erythropoietin-like substances and growth hormones. The minimum number of specific additional analyses is expressed as a percentage of the number of doping controls conducted in a sport (a percentage of additional analyses in addition to the standard analysis package).

In 2021, the analyses of 43% of the 2,379 doping controls in the national programme involved testing urine and/or blood samples for Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). This percentage was higher than in 2020 (37%). The ESA analyses were conducted in addition to the standard laboratory analysis package in a range of relevant sports, with rowing, cycling and athletics at the top of the list (in absolute numbers).

The urine and/or blood samples collected in 36% of 2,379 controls were also analysed for the presence of human growth hormone and/or Growth Hormone Releasing Factors (GHRFs). This percentage was higher than in 2020 (29%). The analyses covered a range of sports, with rowing, cycling and speed skating at the top of the list (in absolute numbers).

In addition (as in 2020), various samples were also analysed for testosterone. Furthermore, large numbers of blood samples were taken to check for growth hormone, ESAs, Haemoglobin-Based Oxygen Carriers (HBOCs) and Homologous Blood Transfusions (HBTs).

In 2021, the vast majority of the urine samples were stored for longer periods of time to allow for the possibility of repeat analyses at some time in the future.

Doping Authority Netherlands has complied with all the applicable WADA TDSSA obligations for 2021.

Unannounced doping controls

The total percentage of out-of-competition controls was 74%, which is more than in 2020 (63%). Almost all doping controls were conducted without prior warning for the athlete (‘no advance notice testing’). The only exceptions were doping controls triggered by a record or limit; in these cases, the initiative for the control resides with the athlete or the athlete’s association.

Target controls

Doping Authority Netherlands has the authority to conduct target controls. These controls are conducted in specific cases and on the basis of criteria determined beforehand. Target controls took place throughout the sports spectrum, with the emphasis being on a number of specific sports and individuals, and controls also being conducted on occasion at the level just below the very top. The Intelligence & Investigations chapter contains more information about this area.

Athlete Biological Passport

In the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme, several blood samples are taken over time from selected athletes from a range of sports for the purposes of establishing longitudinal profiles.
A total of 370 blood samples were collected for the purposes of the Athlete Biological Passport, of which 286 were for the national programme of Doping Authority Netherlands. The number of ABP controls for the national programme rose sharply by comparison with 2020 (by a factor of 2.2), when 131 samples were taken.
The 370 ABP blood controls were conducted in the following sports: cycling, rowing, speed skating, athletics, triathlon, swimming, para-swimming and mixed martial arts.

Findings

In 2021, fourteen files with adverse (analytical and non-analytical) findings were registered with Doping Authority Netherlands. In thirteen cases, the adverse findings related to A urine samples. One case involved a non-analytical finding.
The incidence of adverse findings (including non-analytical findings) was, with 14 files from 2,749 controls, 0.5%. By comparison with the number of urine controls, the percentage was 0.7%. The percentage of adverse findings was lower than in 2020 (1.0%).

Percentage of deviating findings per year
Percentage of deviating findings per year
YearPercentage (%)
20114.4%
20123.2%
20133.6%
20145.3%
20155.5%
20163.2%
20172.4%
20181.0%
20191.2%
20200.8%
20210.5%

Files for which specific follow-up investigations were required

Of the thirteen registered files with adverse findings for the A urine samples, one involved an atypical finding for which a specific follow-up investigation was not required to determine whether there had been a possible anti-doping rule violation given the consideration that several substances were found at the same time that qualify for the conclusion that there has been an anti-doping rule violation. See also Table 2.8.

Files closed on the grounds of therapeutic use exemptions

In nine cases, it was found that a therapeutic use exemption had already been granted prior to the doping control for the therapeutic use of the prohibited substance found. These files were therefore closed and did not result in proceedings with the disciplinary committee of the sports association in question.
In one case, before the binding result was reported to the association by Doping Authority Netherlands, the TUE Committee granted an exemption after all for the use of the substance found. This athlete was not in the Registered Testing Pool of Doping Authority Netherlands. This file was therefore closed and did not result in proceedings with the sports association in question either.

Table 2.4: Adverse analytical results in 2021 justified by a therapeutic use exemption: situation at the time of the closure of the annual report (22 April 2022); RTP=Registered Testing Pool
SportFinding/substanceNumberSubsequent action
Athleticsmetabolite of modafinil1athlete in possession of therapeutic use exemption, file closed
Boxingmetabolite of methylphenidate2athlete in possession of therapeutic use exemption, file closed
Rugbymetabolite of methylphenidate1Therapeutic use exemption granted after the event (not RTP), file closed
Triathlonmetabolite of methylphenidate1athlete in possession of therapeutic use exemption, file closed
Cyclingmetabolite of methylphenidate2athlete in possession of therapeutic use exemption, file closed
Swimmingamphetamine2athlete in possession of therapeutic use exemption, file closed
Swimmingmetabolite of methylphenidate1athlete in possession of therapeutic use exemption, file closed
Total10

Files that were closed because the medication was administered in an authorised way

In one case, it emerged during the evaluation of the case that the medication had been administered in an authorised way. It was therefore possible to close this file, and no proceedings were therefore instigated with the disciplinary committee of the sports association in question.

Table 2.5: Adverse analytical results in 2021 substantiated by the administration of medication in an authorised way: situation at the time of the closure of the annual report (22 April 2022)
SportFinding/substanceNumberSubsequent action
Cyclingmetabolites of prednisolone1medication administered in an authorised way, file closed
Total1

Files closed for other reasons

In one case, it emerged during the evaluation of the case that the athlete in question was no longer a member of the sports federation at the time of the doping control. Further action could therefore not be taken in this case. In one case, a settlement was reached with the relevant IF.

Table 2.6: Files closed for other reasons in 2021: situation at the time of the closure of the annual report (22 April 2022)
SportFinding/substanceNumberSubsequent action
Power liftingEvasion1Athlete not a member of the sports association, file closed
CyclingGC/C/IRMS analysis positive for the use of anabolic steroids1Settlement reached with International Federation
Total2

Substance classification according to the WADA Prohibited List

During the course of substance classification at the group level in accordance with the 2021 WADA Prohibited List, a prohibited substance (or metabolite of such a substance) was found a total of fourteen times in the thirteen adverse A urine samples referred to above. One urine sample contained two prohibited substances. All the other urine samples contained one prohibited substance or metabolite thereof. The stimulant category scored highest with 10 cases out of the 14 in 2021.

Table 2.7: Detected substances and initial adverse findings in 2021
Detected substances2021
Anabolic substances3
Stimulants10
Glucocorticoids1
Total14

Possible anti-doping rule violations/cases resulting in proceedings

In 2021, Doping Authority Netherlands ultimately initiated proceedings in one case (as opposed to four in 2020) because of a possible violation of the regulations of the sports association involved. This case involved a male power lifter.

The percentage of violations identified on Dutch territory and covered by the national programme was 0.04% (one case under national anti-doping regulations resulting from 2,397 doping controls conducted as part of the national programme).

Table 2.8: Analysis results and non-analytical findings in 2021 registered by Doping Authority Netherlands as possible anti-doping rule violations: situation at the time of the closure of the annual report (ISR = Institute for Sports Law)
SportFinding/substanceNumberSubsequent action
21/1Power liftingmetabolite of drostanolone, GC/C/IRMS analysis positive for the use of anabolic steroids[1]1Settlement by ISR (on behalf of sports association)
Total1
  1. Metabolites of nandrolone were also found initially. However, the IRMS result for these findings was negative and so this was classified as atypical (and not as an adverse result).