THE BIG PICTURE: More Russian doping, but this time reported by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency!

Russian Anti-Doping Agency chief Yuriy Ganus

There is still considerable distrust of the anti-doping apparatus in Russia, fueled in part by the continuing investigation into the thousands of reports and samples obtained from the 2011-15 which are now being evaluated by the World Anti-Doping Agency and individual International Federations.

But the question of what Russia’s anti-doping efforts are today is actually more interesting.

Margarita Pakhnotskaya, the Deputy Director General of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) told the Russian TASS News Agency on Tuesday (9th) that 102 potential doping positives have been recorded during the first six months of 2019. The story further noted that:

Pakhnotskaya told TASS earlier in the day that RUSADA carried out 5,703 doping inspections collecting 6,792 samples in the first half of 2019.

RUSADA Director General Yury Ganus told TASS earlier in the year that the national anti-doping agency planned to collect 11,000 doping samples in 2019 and to increase this figure to 13,000 in 2020.

That compares to 6,196 tests in 2017 and 8,497 in 2018.

Further, Pakhnotskaya said that 156 cases of “whereabouts” violations were recorded: “In the period between January and June included, we have registered 156 cases of doping tests’ availability violations,” she said. “They include 122 cases of missed doping tests and 34 cases of failure to provide information about the whereabouts.”

There were 266 such cases of availability violations in 2018 logged by RUSADA.

Is this a lot of testing? Let’s compare the numbers to those of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for recent years:

● 2016: 12,756 total
● 2017: 12,754 total
● 2018: 12,262 total

This is not a completely apples-to-apples comparison, as the USADA totals include its agreement for testing of Mixed Martial Arts athletes, which totaled 2,888 tests (or 23.6% of the total) for 2018. The USADA numbers also do not include testing by other U.S. entities, such as other national governing bodies or universities for its athletes.

But it’s a good indicator that the Russians, under Ganus, are doing better. He has not been afraid to criticize Russian sports officials, noting his own view that the Russian Athletics Federation is not yet ready to be reinstated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

And in terms of positive tests,102 potential Russian positives in the first half of 2019 compares to 37 sanctions announced by USADA in the first six months (17 from Mixed Martial Arts) and 92 for all of 2018 (27 for Mixed Martial Arts).

For many, the jury is still out on RUSADA. But these are encouraging signs.