Aquatics Ranks 9th Among Sports With Most Dopers in 2020 (WADA Annual Report)

The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) has released its 2020 anti-doping summary data, which includes 935 Anti-Doping Rule Violations.

This represents a decrease relative to the 2019 figure of 1,914. It should be noted that with very few sporting events being held due the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of samples collected in 2020 was significantly reduced, which in turn impacted the total number of ADRVs recorded.

  • Tests in 2019: 278,047
  • Tests in 2020: 149,758
  • Tests in 2021: 241,430

In 2019, .97% of samples collected resulted in adverse findings. In 2020, that number dropped to .67%, and even lower among Olympic sports.

Most Violations by Nation (athletes only):

  1. Russia – 135
  2. India – 59
  3. US – 57
  4. Italy – 47
  5. Ukraine – 39
  6. China – 25
  7. Brazil/France – 23
  8. Kazakhstan – 22
  9. Romania – 21

Most Violations by Sport:

  1. Athletics – 107
  2. Cycling – 94
  3. Weightlifting – 89
  4. Powerlifting – 83
  5. Bodybuilding – 77
  6. Mixed Martial Arts – 74
  7. Football (Soccer) – 67
  8. Wrestling – 44
  9. Aquatics – 26
  10. Boxing – 25

Within the sub-category of aquatics, the breakdown was as follows:

  • Diving – 1 (428 samples/0.23%)
  • Swimming Long Distance (800m+) – 1 (925 samples/0.11%)
  • Swimming Middle Distance (200-400m) – 6 (3,189 samples/0.19%)
  • Swimming Sprint (100m or less) – 14 (3,107 samples/0.45%)
  • Water Polo – 3 (1,141 samples/0.26%)
  • Para-Swimming – 3 (706 samples/0.42%)

There were no ADRVs associated with synchronized swimming in 2020.

The WADA Director General Olivier Niggli painted a rosy picture of the results, though given the challenges of the pandemic, it’s difficult to draw any broader conclusions.

“Testing is an integral tool in the protection of clean sport. Understandably, there were decreases in testing worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the percentage of samples confirmed as ADRVs remained stable compared to 2019. This annual Anti-Doping Rule Violations Report gives us a good insight into the outcomes of the testing programs conducted by Anti-Doping Organizations worldwide, particularly when read in combination with WADA’s 2020 Testing Figures report that was published in December 2021.

“The 2020 Anti-Doping Rule Violations report notably highlights the successes of WADA’s Intelligence & Investigations (I&I) Department and similar teams within some Anti-Doping Organizations. This was largely due to WADA’s confidential source platform ‘Speak Up!’ and those whistleblowers who had the courage to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing.

“Anti-doping is not all about testing. Along with WADA I&I, the continued development of a comprehensive values-based education program, the Athlete Biological Passport and advancements made in scientific research and data analysis will continue to play vital roles in the protection of clean sport.”

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Andrew McDonald
3 months ago

I’d be interested in a report based on NCAA testing.

Last edited 3 months ago by Andrew McDonald
3 months ago

These numbers are like golf. The lower the better.

Pseudo Conscious-Meatsack
3 months ago

Wow! They only caught 25 Chinese doping?

Ceccon - Kamminga - Milak - Popovici
Reply to  Pseudo Conscious-Meatsack
3 months ago

Fewer than USA

3 months ago

It’d be interesting to see which sports have the lowest incidence of dopng …

Reply to  Nance
3 months ago

Curling probably.

Reply to  FST
3 months ago

I remember a russian curling player had a positive in the 2018 Olympics and lost his medal, I think it was in the mixed competition.

Reply to  FST
3 months ago

Doping with 3,456 dopers out of 3,457

Dale Nesbitt
3 months ago

I’m honestly surprised boxing is ranked so low.

Reply to  Dale Nesbitt
3 months ago

I think you have to consider the size of the the pool. Out of all the sports listed in the article, boxing probably has the lowest number of athletes, which leads to fewer doping violations.

Juho Ratava
Reply to  Dale Nesbitt
3 months ago

Okay, the report is a little bit confusing, but there’s tables on adverse analytical findings (AAV) including the share of anti doping rule violations (ADRV).by athletes.

Athletics – 18473 tests, 104 AAVs, 71 ADRVs (about 4/1000)
Cycling – 13844 tests, 88 AAVs, 57 ADRVs (about 4/1000)
Weightlifting – 7344 tests, 89 AAVs, 81 ADRVs (about 11/1000)
Powerlifting – 1799 tests, 79 AAVs, 61 ADRVs (about 34/1000)
Bodybuilding – 347 tests, 69 AAVs, 64 ADRVs (about 184/1000)
MMA (pretty much UFC) – 3268 tests, 74 AAVs, “no case to answer” except one ADRV
Football (soccer and futsal) – 22,124 tests, 67 AAVs, 39 ADRVs (2/1000)
Wrestling – 3769 tests, 41 AAVs, 36 ADRVs (10/1000… Read more »

3 months ago

Gotta get those numbers up

Armchair BR'er
Reply to  KSW
3 months ago

That made me laugh 🙂

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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