An investigation by the BBC has raised doubts over the timing of the Covid-19 test submitted by Djokovic’s lawyers submitted to the court in Australia. The tests were submitted as his lawyer’s argued whether he was exempt from rules barring unvaccinated players.
Djokovic’s attempts were dismissed by the courts who said that it was the health minister’s prerogative to make a judgement call about health and safety concerns, effectively rejecting his claims.
But the investigation by the BBC throws further doubt on the documents provided, with it being common knowledge that his original visa application contained false information about his whereabouts prior to visiting the country.
What the BBC found is that the serial number on his test on December 16, appears out of sequence with a sample of tests from Serbia over this period. It is also higher than for his second (negative) test result from six days later.
The discrepancy was first identified by a German research group, Zerforschung. They wrote a blog about Djokovic’s time travels, later partnering with Der Spiegel to report on the issue.
Djokovic’s lawyers submitted two Covid-19 (PCR) tests to the federal court in Australia, one with a positive result on 16 December and one with a negative result on 22 December. Accompanying the documents was one from the acting director of Serbia’s official health body, confirming the dates on these certificates accurately reflected when the tests had been carried out.
Mr Djokovic, who was tested in Serbia, received his results from the Institute of Public Health of Serbia all of these having a unique confirmation code.
Ordinarily these should be in chronological order which is why the BBC collected as many tests as they could to verify that this was the case.
The result, his tests seem to be out of sync.
All 21 results collected were issued by the Institute of Public Health along with a further 35 obtained from Milovan Suvakov, a Serbian research scientist based in the US. Suvakov had been positing his own information online on the same topic. He sent the BBC the PDF files for all these results , some redacted to protect identities.
Once plotted on a timeline the BBC found the only test to be out of sequence was that of Djokovic’s on December 16th, which taken in chronological order suggest that the negative test was taken later somewhere between December 25th and 28th.
The test were taken in different laboratories and it is quite feasible that they were issued with different confirmation code batches. This might explain why his first test has a higher code than his second.
However, in the list of confirmation codes, the BBC has two that were processed in the same lab as Mr Djokovic’s positive test (two days and four days after his sample). They both have lower confirmation codes.
In addition, the test results we gathered were processed at eight different labs, and there is nothing in the data to suggest different labs have separate batches of confirmation codes.
Djordje Krivokapic, a specialist in data and digital security, says: “There is always the possibility for a glitch. But if that were the case, there would be a simple explanation.”
He concludes by saying: “I don’t see why the state authorities wouldn’t just say that.”
The BBC have put their findings to the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, as well as the government’s Office of Information Technology, but have not been able to get a response or an explanation from the organisation.
They have also made contact with Djokovic’s team to ask about their doubts over the timing of the Covid-19 tests, but they have yet to respond.
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