Top Russian Athletes Have Minimal Drug Testing In 2023

Russia’s best athletes have received minimal drug testing in 2023, an issue that is boiling to the forefront with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approving participation for Russian and Belarusians at next summer’s Olympics as neutral athletes.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) lists the number of tests each athlete has undergone per year, and the 2023 results currently show Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov, the country’s top two performers at the Tokyo Olympics, having only been tested twice.

In announcing the approval of Russian and Belarusian participation in Paris, the IOC said that “doping controls in Russia continue” and emphasized the number of tests—a reported 10,500—administered in and out of competition.

However, the number of tests taken by Russia’s best athletes is notably low.

With only two tests taken for the year, Rylov, the reigning Olympic champion in the men’s 100 and 200 backstroke, and Kolesnikov, a two-time medalist in Tokyo and the current world record in the 50 back in both LCM and SCM, have seven fewer tests on the year from RUSADA compared to American Ryan Murphy, who has been tested nine times by USADA.

Note that athletes from both countries are subject to testing by other anti-doping authorities than those from their home countries.

Murphy was the bronze medalist behind Rylov and Kolesnikov at the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 100 back, and was the runner-up to Rylov in the 200 back.

Evgeniia Chikunova, who set the world record in the women’s 200 breaststroke in April, has been tested three times this year, while some athletes have been tested as little as once.

Among the swimmers who have been tested just one time in 2023 include World Championship medalists Vladislav GrinevAndrei Minakov, and Arina Surkova, along with Olympians Kirill Martynychev and Anna Egorova.


  • Tatiana Belonogoff – 3
  • Elena Bogomolova – 5
  • Ilya Borodin – 3
  • Evgeniia Chikunova – 3
  • Svetlana Chimrova – 2
  • Mikhail Dorinov – 1
  • Sofia Dyakova – 2
  • Anna Egorova  – 1
  • Alexander Egorov – 2
  • Nika Godun – 1
  • Ivan Girev – 3
  • Vladislav Grinev – 1
  • Maria Kameneva – 2
  • Aleksandr Kharlanov – 4
  • Elizaveta Klevanovich – 2
  • Daria Klepikova – 3
  • Kliment Kolesnikov – 2
  • Egor Kornev – 3
  • Oleg Kostin – 3
  • Irina Krivonogova – 2
  • Alexander Kudashev – 2
  • Miron Lifintsev – 3
  • Martin Malyutin – 2
  • Kirill Martynychev – 1
  • Daniil Markov – 4
  • Andrei Minakov – 1
  • Rosaliya Nastretdinova – 1
  • Andrey Nikolaev – 4
  • Kirill Prigoda – 4
  • Evgeny Rylov – 2
  • Valeriia Salamatina – 2
  • Pavel Samusenko – 5
  • Danil Semyaninov – 5
  • Alexander Shchegolev – 3
  • Roman Shevlyakov – 3
  • Anastasiia Sorokina – 4
  • Maksim Stupin – 4
  • Arina Surkova – 1
  • Daria Trofimova – 5
  • Daria S Ustinova – 3
  • Daria Vaskina – 1
  • Mikhail Vekovishchev – 2
  • Petr Zhikharev – 5
  • Andrey Zhilkin – 1

Along with Murphy, Katie Ledecky has been tested nine times in 2023, while other top American athletes such as Noah Lyles (7) and Sha’Carri Richardson (6) have been tested double or triple the number of their counterparts.

USADA also notably lists Caeleb Dressel as only having been tested twice in 2023—though he’s been tested at least 50 times dating back to 2018 and 69 times in total beginning in 2015.

It is worth noting that RUSADA reports indicate Kolesnikov was tested six times in 2022, while Chikunova had five tests and Rylov had three.

In 2021, Chikunova was tested four times and Kolesnikov and Rylov had three apiece.

A minimum of three to five tests per year is required to ensure the effectiveness of an athlete’s “biological passport”—with out-of-competition testing being particularly crucial to ensure thoroughness in the system.

The IOC shared in its announcement last week that over 400 out-of-competition tests had been administered to Russian athletes in 2023 by the International Testing Agency (ITA), though AP reports that a recent analysis done by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) indicated the ITA has limited reach within countries.

USADA found that tests by international bodies only covered 11% of U.S. athletes on its Olympic team, with the other 89% only tested by USADA itself. The organization also reportedly found that approximately 76% of Russian summer Olympic athletes who ranked in the top-10 in their respective sports since 2021 had been given two or fewer tests this year.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee chairman Gene Sykes, who signed off on the IOC memo allowing neutral participation last week, said once Russian athletes eligible for the Olympics are identified, “there needs to be a lot of work done to make the entire system confident that the athletes are fully compliant.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) still holds RUSADA as non-compliant as a result of non-conformity relating to national legislation that was identified during a virtual audit in September 2022.

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6 months ago

Why are some athletes dope tested every time they compete at a .competition.
Often hear of the same athletes being tested 3/4 times. Surely if an athlete was tested on a Monday why no random test someone else on the Wednesday?

6 months ago

¿How many times are NCAA athletes tested during the year? Just asking

Reply to  mclovin96
6 months ago

I don’t have a number that I can verify. Anecdotally, a lot, but the programs are a lot less rigorous. They are often told ahead of time, and people tell me that positive tests get overlooked pretty often.

But of course keep in mind that many NCAA athletes are also subject to WADA/USADA testing protocols.

6 months ago

Does anyone know how to find the testing info for Canadian and Australian athletes?

Nick B
6 months ago

Excellent article. Russia has an unenviable history of doping, and it’s good to see this analysis.

That said, if you don’t watch mainstream media propaganda, it is highly likely that Ukraine has effectively lost the war. They will need to give up territory, or lose a lot more. Russia has secured most of the Donbas, which was the primary target of the war, occupied by mostly ethnic Russians who wanted to split off from Ukraine all the way back in 2014. Ukraine’s counteroffensive failed. Elections in Ukraine are canceled for next year. A male and female draft has been imposed (age 17-70) to help prevent further movement by the Russians, it is now illegal for those folks to leave… Read more »

Philip Johnson
6 months ago

Weren’t the editors of these very site saying the Russian swimmers were “the most scrutinized” of all the swimmers? That facts don’t support that.

Reply to  Philip Johnson
6 months ago

I highly doubt SwimSwam said that Russian swimmers were the most scrutinized by their respective governing body, RUSADA. I think they have said that the IOC expects them to be the most scrutinized in order to participate in future events. Essentially saying “show me you have changed”.

6 months ago

Not sure this is the key issue in evaluating Russian anti-doping compliance. If there are native Russians doing the testing, how credible can it be? The Russian government is among the most corrupt in the world, and views “sport” as a form of nationalist propaganda. The people doing the testing would not be in their positions unless unless they were approved by, under the influence of, and / or closely monitored by the government. Keep in mind that the conspiracy uncovered in Sochi was among literally 100s of athletes, officials, and testers. Do we think that the leopard has changed its spots?

6 months ago

Easy to portray Russia negatively with so few tests. But what is the actual number? We all know that there are more entities conducting tests than the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. Do your job and reveal the real figure. Show that you are transparent and want what is best for swimming in general.

Reply to  Simfan
6 months ago

The point is that so few tests have been done…. USADA vs RUSADA shows clear discrepancy in the number of tests being done by national based organisations who are the forefront of anti doping control

6 months ago

I remember the days when the Russians simply smoked cigarettes after practice. So complicated now!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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