CAS 2019/A/6254 Alexander Ivanov v. Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), award of 14 February 2020
World Athletics 2022 WA vs Aleksandr Ivanov
August 25, 2022
- Athletics (race walking)
- Doping (Athlete’s Biological Passport, ABP)
- Establishment of an anti-doping rule violation by the ABP
- ABP profile
- OFF Score
- Adaptive Model
- ABP as reliable means of evidence
- Standard of proof
1. The Athlete’s Biological Passport (ABP) is not, of itself, sufficient to establish an anti-doping rule violation; it is also a matter for the interpretation of the ABP by experts.
2. The ABP is an electronic record maintained for an individual athlete in which the results of the analysis of samples collected over a period of time are collated. It contains a haematological profile consisting of the combined results of haematological parameters analysed in respect of a series of blood samples. These parameters are subject to natural fluctuations. By tracking the parameters, it is possible to establish a range for these natural variations. The purpose of a passport is to individualise parameters within an expected range.
3. The OFF Score refers to the relationship between haemoglobin and reticulocytes in the athlete’s blood. Doping to increase endurance is designed to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood which, in turn, will affect the amount of haemoglobin in blood and the percentage of reticulocytes. A significant fluctuation in an OFF score can indicate doping.
4. The haematological profile incorporates the use of “the Adaptive Model”, a mathematical model designed to identify unusual longitudinal results from athletes, based on a series of algorithms, which identifies a profile which deviates from an athlete’s usual parameters, referred to as “atypical”. An ATPF is a report generated by the Adaptive Model, which identifies either a single marker value or a longitudinal profile of marker values as being outside the athlete’s individual range. Under the ABP Guidelines, an ATPF requires further investigation and/or analysis.
5. The ABP is, and has been generally accepted as, a reliable mean of evidence to assist in establishing ADRV.
6. A conclusion drawn from an ABP by an expert panel that it is “highly likely” that an athlete used a prohibited substance or prohibited method and that any alternative explanation is “highly unlikely”, establishes the ADRV to the requisite standard of comfortable satisfaction of the adjudicating body, greater than a mere balance of probabilities.
In May 2017 the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) reported an anti-doping rule violation against the Athlete Alexander Ivanov after an Expert Panel concluded unanimously in March 2017 in their Joint Expert Opinion that the Athlete’s hematological profile “highly likely” showed that he used a prohibited substance or a prohibited method: the use of EPO or Blood doping.
This conclusion of the Expert Panel was based on assessment of blood samples, collected in the period from 9 July 2012 until 9 February 2017 reported in the Athlete’s Biological Passport (ABP).
After notification the Athlete submitted several explanations and objections to RUSADA about the circumstances surrounding the collected samples. However after consideration the Expert Panel rejected the Athlete’s explanations and objections in their 2nd (September 2017) and 3rd (January 2018) Opinion. A provisional suspension was ordered and the Athlete was heard for the RUSADA Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee.
Consequently on 22 March 2019 the Anti-Doping Committee decided to impose a 3 year period of ineligibility on the Athlete starting on the date of the provisional suspension including disqualification of his results.
Hereafter in April 2019 the Athlete appealed the Decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Athlete requested the Panel to set aside the Decision and to impose a reduced sanction.
The Athlete denied he committed an anti-doping rule violation and with an expert witness he disputed the validity of the samples in his ABP. He asserted that his altitude training and normal biological and analytical variabilities could explain his ABP profile.
RUSADA rejected the Athlete's assertions and contended that the Expert Panel's Opinions already had refuted the Athlete's explanations and objections.
Considering the evidence the Sole Arbitrator is comfortably satisfied that RUSADA has established that the conclusion to be drawn from Mr. Ivanov’s ABP is that he used a prohibited substance or prohibited method. In its Expert Panel Opinion, the Expert Panel asserted that this was “highly likely” and that any alternative explanation was “highly unlikely”. This conclusion, which the Sole Arbitrator accepts, establishes the ADRV to the requisite standard, greater than a mere balance of probabilities.
Yet the Sole Arbitrator finds that the circumstances of the offence are not sufficient to support a finding of aggravated circumstances. Further the Sole Arbitrator concludes that the disqualification period should be from 9 July 2012 to 17 August 2014, which is coincident with the period of proven use.
Therefore The Court of Arbitration for Sport Decides on 14 Feburary 2020 that:
- The appeal filed by Alexander Ivanov on 12 April 2019 is partially upheld.
- A period of Ineligibility of two (2) years is imposed on Alexander Ivanov starting from 2 May 2017.
- All competitive results of Alexander Ivanov from 9 July 2012 to 17 August 2014 are disqualified, with all resulting consequences (including forfeiture of any titles, awards, medals, profits, prizes, and appearance money).
- All other motions or prayers for relief are dismissed.