— Published 27 October 2021

A damning investigation into Ukrainian sport


Threat of very big time for the Ukrainian sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published Tuesday, October 26, a report of an investigation it has conducted since 2019 on the actions of the Ukrainian Anti-Doping Agency. Its conclusions are damning. WADA’s investigation, dubbed “Operation Hercules,” reveals that the Ukrainian anti-doping agency would have helped some athletes slip through the cracks of the fight against doping. How? It has conducted, since at least the year 2012, sample collection with unjustified notice, organizing tests of athletes, including groups of athletes, in the context of appointments at its offices. This questionable practice, which is intended to warn an athlete that he or she may test positive in the event of an actual test, is contrary to WADA’s rules, which state that sample collection must be done without notice to the athlete. “Operation Hercules has raised serious suspicions about the integrity of NADC’s (Ukraine’s anti-doping authority) doping testing practices, its competence and certain members of its staff,” WADA’s Director of Investigations Gunter Younger explained in a statement. In addition, the duration and apparent brazenness of these practices suggest dysfunction in the organization of the NADC. Operation Hercules has corroborated and compelling evidence that NADC was engaging in practices of calling or contacting athletes via their coaches to require their presence at their facility for testing the next day.” During its lengthy investigation, WADA discovered that these practices often occurred in advance of major international competitions. In the course of its lengthy investigation, WADA discovered that these practices often occurred in the run-up to major international competitions, where an entire national team could be invited to the agency’s offices for testing, to check its positivity and possibly to remove it or certain elements of it. The report of the WADA specifies that six tests, at least, were made before the Games of Tokyo and presented as controls out of competition. Operation Hercules also investigated allegations of organized doping in the Ukrainian Athletics Federation. But no evidence was found to support this accusation. Potential evidence of EPO trafficking by an individual within the federation was discovered. But the accused denied the allegations.