Ben McDevitt, chief executive of ASADA, believes Australia's approach to anti-doping maximises drug testers' opportunities to detect cheating and protect clean athletes ©Getty Images

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has revealed it has been conducting what it describes as the "most rigorous" anti-doping programme of any Australian Olympic team to date, with drug testing ahead of Rio 2016 said to have started eight months ago.

As part of the process, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has provided ASADA with information on each of its 1,200 shadow Olympic team athletes, including a weighted index aimed at pinpointing which athletes and sports should be specifically targeted for testing.

Fiona de Jong, secretary general of the AOC, told The Australian that the weighting was based on the general risk of doping in each sport as well as the likelihood of the athlete being selected and the likelihood of the athlete being a medal contender.

"It’s not just blanket testing," she said. 

"Our role is to arm them with as much information as we can about what athletes are doing, where they are, and when their key selection events are.

"That helps them to come up with an intelligent plan that best uses their resources.

"There has always been good co-operation between the AOC and ASADA but we’ve taken it to another level so they can use our knowledge."

Ben McDevitt, chief executive of ASADA, believes the approach maximises drug testers' opportunities to detect cheating and protect clean athletes.

"Athletes in different sports could benefit from different substances taken at different times, and the testing schedule for our aspiring Olympians and Paralympians is highly targeted to reflect that," he said. 

"The international spotlight is firmly on doping allegations in sport at the moment, so it is extremely important for Australia to protect our reputation as a nation of fair sport and maintain our strong stance against doping.

"In the lead up to the Games, it is equally important to ensure that no clean athletes miss out on being selected to compete in Rio because their place was taken by an athlete who doped."

Australia's Grant Hackett sought treatment last year for addiction to the prescription drug zolpidem
Australia's Grant Hackett sought treatment last year for addiction to Stilnox ©Getty Images

As well as targeted testing, online and face-to-face education programmes are also said to have been conducted. 

"A key part of the education programme is ensuring that athletes are aware that they are personally responsible for every substance that enters their body," added McDevitt. 

"The programmes are as much about prevention as they are about catching any athletes who are doing the wrong thing."

AOC President John Coates said there were plans to send around 450 athletes to Rio de Janeiro in August.

De Jong expects that every athlete named in the team will be tested at least once before the Games, while those in high-risk categories will be tested on multiple occasions. 

"We want to hit everyone," she said.

Under the AOC team membership agreement, athletes will be required to "fully and truthfully answer questions" posed by ASADA investigators. 

They will also be required to provide information and documents in any ASADA investigation "even if to do so might tend to incriminate them or expose them to a penalty, sanction or other disciplinary measure".

In August of last year, Australia's athletes were banned from using Stilnox, a prescription medication used for the treatment of insomnia, from the date they are selected for the Olympics in an attempt to avoid the scandals which rocked their swimming team at London 2012.

The AOC Executive moved to clarify the situation regarding the use of "hypnotic substances" ahead of Rio 2016 having been subjected to fierce criticism for not giving athletes enough time to stop using the medications before the start of the Games in London.

Swimmer Grant Hackett sought treatment last year for addiction to Stilnox.

Elsewhere, the Korea Anti-Doping Agency (KADA) says it will strive for "transparent testing procedures and reasonable degree of punishments."

"Pro leagues have been taking appropriate anti-doping steps," a KADA official told Yonhap.

"But we believe we'll be able to come up with stronger penalties for positive tests.

"And though we may not be able to test all athletes, we'll test them more often than before."