Why InnoVero’s stamp of quality from NSF matters most for those doping control is there to serve – the athletes

By Callum Skinner, Rio 2016 Olympic Champion in Cycling 

and Gabe Baida, InnoVero Executive Director

One week ago, the renowned public health and safety organization, NSF International did something it had never done before. It gave a Drug Testing Sample Collection and Security Equipment Manufacturer the very best ‘stamp of quality’ that can be bestowed: NSF Certification for Product Compliance. 

This means that InnoVero’s innovative product range has become the first sample collection equipment manufacturer in anti-doping to be recognised as compliant with NSF’s P490 protocol. In simple terms, it means the design, construction and performance of InnoVero’s product range has been given the thumbs up – InnoVero and the SAFE System has been independently assessed as creating innovations that meet unprecedented levels of product testing and scientific rigour. That’s a good thing, not just for the anti-doping movement as a whole, but above all, for those that doping control serves: the athletes. 

So, why does this news matter for athletes so much? Well, given the context of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, where – as a WADA investigation and Oscar-winning movie told us – the sample collection kit used at the Games was tampered with, and the whole process jeopardised. Indeed, InnoVero was born out of the need for a new-style manufacturer to emerge following the Russian systematic doping scandal, which, when it boils down to the detail, was really about sample collection kit being broken into. With all that followed, athletes had for a number of years, a pretty raw deal in terms of dented trust in the system. 

Now, many athletes will already be familiar with NSF due to its “Certified for Sport” supplement certification programme; it’s a similar programme to Informed-Sport certification; thus, NSF already has fantastic credibility with athletes and the anti-doping community. What will be surprising to athletes is that InnoVero is the only third party certified anti-doping test kit on the market – it has set the benchmark.

In society, the NSF logo is synonymous with a range of life-preserving products that necessitate high quality; their certification is something that once you’re aware of it, you’ll start seeing everywhere: fire-safe doors, medical devices, drinking water pipes, products where performance is critical. Athletes – former and current – including me, Callum, feel grateful that we now have an NSF certified test kit; InnoVero is the first in the industry to meet athlete expectations.

For InnoVero to secure this unprecedented accolade from NSF International, it sends a refreshing message to athletes that they can trust this part of the process that is, ultimately, there to protect their rights. While complacency should never enter the fray, this certification does prove that InnoVero’s athlete-centred approach to product development has been recognised; and that athletes – rather than concerning themselves over how robust the kit is – can concentrate squarely on their competition. 

Importantly, the certification also serves as a marker for other sample collection manufacturers to raise the standards of their kit. Anti-doping is a collective effort, and is only as effective as the sum of all its parts; therefore, if other organizations are to raise the quality of their kit, that has to be good for athletes no matter where they are in the world and which kit they are subjected to using as part of the doping control process. If this certification is able to energise a traditionally stagnant industry, that has to be a good thing for all concerned. 

And, for athletes, doping control is known to be an uncomfortable, fairly awkward process they have to go through; so, if concerns over the quality of kit is one less thing they have to think about, then that is a positive step forward. 

Let this be the latest positive step forward for an industry regaining its reputation and modernising the way it operates – for a clean athlete community seeking to believe in sport once more.