WADA insists suspension of labs will not create gaps in testing process

Beijing, Bloemfontein and Lisbon labs suspended in recent weeks

World Anti-Doping Agency president Craig Reedie has insisted that the recent suspension of accreditation of the Beijing, Bloemfontein and Lisbon laboratories will not lead to any shortcomings in the testing process ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“It is important for athletes to note that, as a result of these suspensions, all samples will now be transported securely to one of the remaining 31 WADA-accredited laboratories worldwide, thereby ensuring that there are no gaps in the anti-doping sample analysis procedures and that the integrity of the samples is fully maintained,” Reedie said in a statement issued on Thursday evening.

The suspension of the Bloemfontein lab two days ago means that there is currently no WADA-accredited laboratory in operation in the entire continent of Africa.

WADA has sanctioned four laboratories in the past month. The Beijing, Bloemfontein and Lisbon laboratories have all been suspended, while the Moscow laboratory has had its licence revoked, having previously been suspended since last November.

WADA has declined to provide precise explanations for the suspensions, citing ongoing legal proceedings, including the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Generally speaking, however, laboratory suspensions can be due to a variety of reasons, including: a violation of the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), which may relate to administrative problems or organizational issues; or the accumulation of too many ‘penalty points’ that would result from WADA’s EQAS [External Quality Assessment Scheme - ed.] If a laboratory accumulates 30 or more points during an EQAS period, this can result in a suspension,” Reedie said.

“It is also worth bearing in mind that as laboratories face increasing analytical challenges, with new substances being added to the Prohibited List, a suspension can be the result of insufficient or outdated equipment, which can directly impact their ability to analyse samples efficiently.”

Reedie added that the suspension will not compromise the analysis of samples already taken by the laboratories in question. “WADA requires suspended laboratories to reassess results of past analysis and reanalyse past athlete samples from a determined period of time as needed,” he said.

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