According to FINA, a Tokyo Pre-Games Testing Programme was held between January 1st, 2021 through the start of the Games. The organization’s goal was to conduct 2000 out-of-competition (OOC) drug tests during this pre-games phase.
It ended up collecting 2,708 samples collected from 839 athletes that spanned 69 countries. Of those tests, 1,852 of them were given out of competition and 148 in competition. Test recipients were 51.6% female and 48.4% male.
The vast majority of tests were completed by pool swimmers, with divers, water polo players, open water swimmers and artistic swimmers receiving a few hundred per sport at most.
In comparison, there were 1,950 OOC drug tests completed in 2016 in preparation for the Rio Olympic Games.
Notably, Russia was the country with the most out-of-competition tests leading up to the Tokyo Games. The United States was next, followed by Australia, Italy, and Brazil to round out the top five nations.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on the amount and availability of tests. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, testing across sports was down 45% in 2020 compared to 2019. For reference, pre-COVID, there were 4,000 Olympic athletes in Rio that had no record of a drug test in the year leading into the 2016 Games.
Lilly King had reportedly been tested over 20 times since the start of the 2020 shutdown. King has historically been an outspoken advocate for clean sport, and along with Ryan Murphy, expressed concern that all countries competing at the Tokyo Olympics were not being held to the same standards.
“I would definitely say some of the countries that have not been as trusted are probably taking advantage of the time that they had without testing,” King said.
Murphy stirred up some controversy by expressing his concern about whether or not he’s competing in a clean field after losing to Russian swimmers in two races.
“It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year that I’m swimming in a race that’s probably not clean, and that is what it is,” Murphy said. “The people that know a lot more about the situation made the decision they did. It frustrates me but I have to swim the field that’s next to me. I don’t have the bandwidth to train for the Olympics at a very high level and try to lobby the people who are making the decisions that they’re making the wrong decisions.”
There were 763 test samples collected from 472 Olympic athletes during the Tokyo Games, FINA said. Of those, 71.1% were in competition and 28.9% were out of competition, and 51% were taken by male athletes a 49% by females.
“These numbers show the serious commitment from FINA in ensuring a fair competition to all our amazing athletes competing in the Games,” FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said. “In this endless but fundamental fight to eradicate doping from our Sport, we have counted on the support of the International Testing Agency, our partner in the out-of-competition testing programme. On behalf of the athletes and their entourage, we are grateful for this positive co-operation.”