After adjusting to the new conditions, the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports, FINCIS, has continued testing athletes for doping according to its plans despite the coronavirus pandemic. FINCIS adjusted its testing policies to make testing safe for both athletes and testing staff. FINCIS’ success can be seen in the feedback it received from athletes. The feedback shows that athletes who have been tested have been satisfied with the testing arrangements during these challenging times.
According to FINICS’ athlete survey, athletes trust FINCIS’ procedures and doping control during the pandemic. Nine out of ten respondents supported testing athletes during the pandemic. Furthermore, 95% of respondents felt that testing was safe or very safe. The tests are performed using protective equipment, and hygiene is always taken care of. Camper vans were also used in some cases.
“The year has been unique, as the pandemic challenged us to change our procedures quickly. We are very happy with the athlete feedback and the fact that we were able to react quickly and continue testing. We implemented new procedures that accounted for recommendations from authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA’s recommendations”, says FINCIS’ Doping Control Manager Katja Huotari.
Praise for good attitudes and professionalism
Athletes praised the attitudes and professionalism of FINCIS’ doping control staff in their feedback. Athletes also appreciated the doping control officers’ friendly service and clear communication regarding the special arrangements. Huotari thanks athletes and reminds everyone that safe testing requires good co-operation with athletes.
According to the survey, Finnish athletes trust FINCIS’ testing. However, some athletes raised concerns about whether doping control and testing was internationally equal for all contestants under these exceptional conditions. Despite this, over 50% of respondents do not consider the pandemic a threat to clean sports.
The Doping Control Manager trusts that the exceptional year has taught the testing organisation how to react to unexpected changes or requirements quickly.
“We made special arrangements and began using protective equipment and camper vans, for example. The situation has challenged doping control, and different countries have used technology in new ways to continue testing. I believe that this development work will continue. We do not know what will happen in the future. Now we know that we can change our procedures and react to new situations at short notice”, Huotari says.
The athlete survey was sent to athletes that FINCIS tested between 1 June and 30 November 2020. Nearly half of the respondents were 18–25 years old, and slightly over half of all respondents had been tested during a competition. The response percentage was higher than average when compared to other athlete surveys. Over 400 athletes responded to the survey.
FINCIS Communication Manager
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