Doping control facing challenges
due to coronavirus, says WADA
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[March 21, 2020]
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The
coronavirus pandemic is restricting the fight against anti-doping,
the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said while issuing new
guidelines to continue testing of athletes ahead of the Tokyo
Since starting in China late last year, the flu-like disease has
infected over 270,000 people and killed more than 11,000 across the
world, bringing global sport to a virtual standstill. The Tokyo
Olympics are due to run from July 24-Aug. 9, but organizers are
under pressure to cancel or postpone them due to the coronavirus.
With most countries going into lockdown and closing borders to
contain the spread of the virus, WADA said the anti-doping system
was facing challenges.
"The sports world is dealing with an unprecedented situation.
COVID-19 has forced all anti-doping stakeholders, including WADA, to
adjust the way daily operations are conducted," WADA President
Witold Banka said.
"But this matter goes way beyond anti-doping and sport – it is a
global emergency – and our first priority must be public health,
safety and social responsibility."
WADA said it will continue to provide guidance to the Anti-Doping
Organizations (ADOs), who must adhere to restrictions placed by
local health authorities and governments.
"It will also be crucial that the system can return to full power as
quickly as possible once the various restrictions are lifted," Banka
"During this time, I would like to acknowledge how difficult it is
for athletes, too, who face disruptions to their training programs
and uncertainty as to what the future holds for their competitions."
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A man walks at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) venue on the eve
of the Fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice,
Poland, November 4, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Grzegorz Celejewski via
WADA said sample collection officials must be healthy and have no
symptoms related to the virus and should be provided with protective
If testing opportunities are limited due to local restrictions, ADOs
should focus on targeted athletes from high risk sports and
disciplines, WADA said.
The governing body also urged ADOs to remind athletes they can still
be tested at any place and any time and continue to provide
whereabouts for their movements to be monitored.
With several accredited laboratories having suspended operations due
to the crisis and more testing facilities expected to do the same,
WADA instructed the ADOs to check the governing body's website to
determine the operational ones.
WADA urged the ADOs to inform the agency in case of changes made to
doping control programs.
"While there are no plans to change existing requirements under the
World Anti-Doping Program, WADA fully acknowledges the complexities
of this unprecedented situation and will ensure its compliance
monitoring program provides a level of flexibility and understanding
based on the circumstances," WADA said.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond)
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