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.
The World Anti-Doping Code, and the International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI) that came into force in 2021, 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 and a data specialist were employed by the Enforcement and Investigation department of Doping Authority Netherlands in 2021. 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. The work of the data specialist consisted primarily of collecting and analysing data relating to athletes and the available data in existing systems (global and otherwise).
Adopting an intelligence-based approach allows Doping Authority Netherlands to fulfil its investigative 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.
The data are worked up where necessary, and then interpreted and combined with existing information and data (scientific and otherwise). The insights acquired as a result are used by the Enforcement & Investigations department for:
- the assessment of the doping risk in different sports and disciplines;
- planning doping controls both in and out of competition;
- identifying violations of the doping regulations;
- disciplinary proceedings;
- own observations and additions to existing cases that are not disciplinary procedures.
After sports resumed in the Netherlands in the second quarter of 2021, the flow of data (from open sources and otherwise) has returned to its previous level. For example, information was obtained from media reports, other open sources, findings of DCOs and/or conspicuous performance by athletes, etc. Lists of participants at competitions/events are also assessed in order to conduct more targeted controls. Information was also acquired in preparation for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo and in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Over the past year, the intelligence officer used open sources and regularly identified athletes (Olympic and otherwise) who were staying abroad. Upon investigation, it was found that this information did not correspond to the athlete’s stated place of residence. All the information gathered was shared with the relevant colleagues in order to continue deploying people and resources optimally.
The information-driven work in all its facets is still in full development (both in the Netherlands and elsewhere). In the year under review, investments were made in, among other areas, the further development of information systems, the expansion of technical resources, the elaboration of procedures and the extension of the network of partners in the anti-doping world.
In 2021, Doping Authority Netherlands entered into an agreement with the Dutch National Office for Identity Data in order to access the Key Registration of Persons (BRP).
Visitors to the website www.dopingautoriteit.nl/meldpunt can submit tips about possible anti-doping rule 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.
As a result of the COVID pandemic, the first quarter of 2021 saw a decrease in the number of tips. After the lockdown, the number of tips rose again, with more tips eventually coming in than in the previous year despite the wave of COVID cases at the end of the year.
Twenty-one tips from external parties (not including partners in the chain) about possible anti-doping rule violations were received by Doping Authority Netherlands in 2021 via one of the options provided.
The tips were submitted via the website, in person, by telephone, in writing, by WhatsApp and in emails. Ten tips related to suspicions of doping, none to suspicions of facilitating doping, three to suspicions of trafficking and three to conduct that did not constitute an anti-doping rule violation (such as the use of drugs out of competition without the intention of enhancing performance). In addition, there were 5 cases that were not covered by the above categories, such as tips about websites that sell illegal medicines or reports in response to media reports. In addition to the tips from external sources referred to here, Doping Authority Netherlands also received fifteen tips from internal sources. These were tips and/or information that came to the Intelligence Officer through colleagues.
All tips 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. In 2021, the tips also resulted in the identification of an anti-doping rule violation.
Collaboration with government services and fellow anti-doping organisations
By contrast with the situation relating 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 some of the statutory remit referred to in Article 5 of the Wuab. The development and expansion of good collaborative relationships with these organisations is therefore of major importance. This involves supplying and receiving information.
The terms of the collaboration with chain partners such as the IGJ, the NVWA-IOD, the police, the FIOD and the customs authorities have been set out in protocols. In 2021, Annex 6 was added to the ‘Covenant on cooperation between the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the Ministry of Finance in the execution of statutory tasks in the policy area of the Ministry of Health by the customs authorities’. This makes it possible for the customs authorities and Doping Authority Netherlands to share specific information so that trends can be clarified and/or to see which substances/prohibited substances are being found.
The sharing of specific and/or investigation information with Doping Authority Netherlands continues to be a challenge in collaboration between government services. This is a result of various statutory frameworks such as the Police Data Act. In 2021, increasing demand could be seen for expertise about doping from the investigating authorities. In the past year, Doping Authority Netherlands was included in the database of the National Expertise Broker (LDM) of the National Police in order to provide expertise in this way as well for national investigations relating to prohibited substances. Doping Authority Netherlands continues emphatically to seek ever closer cooperation with investigation and enforcement bodies. Information is shared efficiently in mutual exchanges with anti-doping organisations from other countries. There is also support for ongoing investigations.
The intelligence en investigations 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 2021, information was supplied to, among others, the NVWA-IOD and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee but also to fellow anti-doping organisations such as United States Anti-Doping (USADA), NADO Flanders and a range of International Federations.
- 2020: number of tips (including chain partners): 17
- 2020: number of sports: 14
- 2020: number 10
- 2020: number 5
- 2020: number 5
- 2020: number 1
- Doping Authority Netherlands can, without the cooperation of other organisations, only collect and process information that comes from testing procedures or open sources, or that is reported to Doping Authority Netherlands.