During a pre-meet technical meeting in Indianapolis this week, the upstart International Swimming League (ISL) announced that there would, in fact, be doping control operations in place at their meets.
While the ISL does not formally have its own doping control program, though it does have a permanent and automatic disqualification in place for those who receive disqualifications as the result of violations of other organizations’ anti-doping policies, they have partnered with national anti-doping organizations to provide testing at their meets.
According to the slides presented at the technical meeting, the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) ran the doping efforts in Indianapolis, which will be handed off to other national anti-doping organizations in the series’ other host countries of Italy, Hungary, and London.
8 random tests were conducted by a draw of both an event name and a finishing position within that event (so, for example, 4th place in the 100 fly, or winner in the 400 IM). 4 tests were done on each match day. Swimmers were to be notified immediately after the finish of the event, and then have 60 minutes to report to the doping control room. An exception was made when an athlete was chosen but had another event within the 60 minutes, which could have created a timing issue given the rapid pace of ISL meets. In those cases, athletes would be tested immediately after their last event of the day.
In the event of an adverse analytical finding (AAF), more colloquially known as a positive test, the results would be forwarded on to the relevant anti-doping organization. Unlike most sports leagues like FINA or major league baseball, the ISL does not have its own internal sanctioning procedures or policies. The league would likely not be allowed to become signatories of the World Anti-Doping Code because of a CAS ruling that expelling dopers from competition after serving their sanctions was a violation of the Code.
USADA would also conduct tests of any swimmers who were to race faster than a World Record or World Junior Record, which would be required by FINA to recognize a World Record or World Junior Record in accordance with their rules. FINA originally said that they would not acknowledge results or records of ISL competitions unless organizers complied with FINA regulations, including requesting approval 6 months in advance. We have reached out to FINA to ask if they had determined whether or not ISL competitions, which are being supported by USA Swimming in an advisory role, were in compliance with FINA regulations. FINA very rarely responds to requests for comment, and so the test may not come until a World Record is actually broken. American swimmer Katie Ledecky came very close in the 400 free on Sunday at the ISL, finishing .14 seconds short of Ariarne Titmus’ global standard. Ledecky did break the American Record, which USA Swimming says that they plan to ratify, pending the successful completion of paperwork and conclusion of the same process for American Records set at other meets.`