Five-time World Champion Tatiana Kashirina, Olympic medalist Ruslan Albegov, World Champion Artem Okulov, and others appear absent in Russia’s National Testing Pool (NTP) and Registered Testing Pool (RTP).
Russia’s NTP and RTP serve to ensure two things:
- that athletes remain clean throughout all competitive and non-competitive seasons
- that athletes who are doping are caught and punished
Registration into the NTP and RTP ensures that athletes who compete at an international level are subject to both in-competition and out-of-competition testing by Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA). Athletes in the testing pool are required to fill in up-to-date whereabouts forms to ensure that they can be tested on any given day. This allows athletes to be tested at any time without prior warning. Many prohibited substances have increasingly short half-lives and so prior warning of out-of-competition testing can allow athletes to appear clean. By lacking a whereabouts form the governing anti-doping agency is unable to perform these tests.
Absence from these testing pools implies one or two of the following two things:
- Athletes are being deliberately overlooked by authorities, allowing the use of foul play
- Athletes’ records have been retroactively eradicated, potentially to remove the proof of foul play
We do not yet know the consequences of this, though it seems likely that the punishment will fall into the laps of the athletes at fault, not their representatives or teams. According to the World Anti Doping website, ‘athletes are ultimately responsible for their whereabouts. As a result, they cannot avoid responsibility by blaming their representative or the team for filing inaccurate information about their whereabouts or for not updating their whereabouts if they were not at the location specified’.