WADA’s ‘Operation LIMS’ investigation reaches important milestone with more than 200 sanctions


Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announces that sanctions stemming from its ‘Operation LIMS’ investigation based on data and samples that were successfully retrieved by WADA Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory in 2019 have now passed the 200 mark.

As of today, a total of 203 Russian athletes have been sanctioned by 17 Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) with an additional 73 charged, as well as another 182 cases that remain under investigation.

WADA President Witold Bańka said: “The continued success of WADA’s ‘Operation LIMS’ investigation is a testament to the significant work being conducted by the Agency’s Intelligence and Investigations, and Legal Affairs departments. I would also like to thank the International Federations and other Anti-Doping Organizations that have diligently followed up on the evidentiary packages WADA provided to them and continue to bring cases as appropriate. WADA is following up with all the relevant authorities involved in the investigation to ensure justice is served for athletes around the world.”

Director of WADA I&I Gunter Younger said: “WADA Intelligence & Investigations is pleased to have crossed this significant landmark of 200 successfully sanctioned cases. However, there is still a lot of work ahead of us. ‘Operation LIMS’ has required significant operational cooperation from Anti-Doping Organizations and other stakeholders. The success of this operation is due in large part to the investment that WADA and the anti-doping community have made in intelligence and investigations and demonstrates what can be achieved through effective collaboration.”

About ‘Operation LIMS’

In 2015, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code after WADA uncovered widespread institutionalized doping within Russian sport. In September 2018, WADA’s Executive Committee voted to reinstate RUSADA subject to a number of strict conditions. This decision paved the way for WADA I&I’s successful missions to Russia in January 2019 and April 2019 to retrieve data from the LIMS of the Moscow Laboratory, as well as a number of samples.

During the authentication phase that followed, it was established that some of the data had been manipulated, which led to a fresh compliance case being taken against RUSADA under the terms of the International Standard of Code Compliance for Signatories, a strong legal framework that entered into force in April 2018 after the original case against RUSADA.

This resulted in WADA again seeking RUSADA’s non-compliance along with a range of strong consequences for a four-year period. In its ruling of December 2020, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld WADA’s case but imposed weaker consequences on Russia than those sought by WADA, and for a two-year period rather than four. Meanwhile, ‘Operation LIMS’ was able to forensically recover much of the data that had been manipulated and/or deleted, which led to hundreds of strong cases being built against athletes who had been part of Russia's doping program.