WADA suspends Madrid anti-doping lab for three months

John Fahey (right) with former WADA President Dick Pound

John Fahey (right) with former WADA President Dick Pound (Image credit: AFP)

Madrid’s anti-doping lab will be out of action for three months after an athlete - which Spanish newspaper AS claims to have been a professional cyclist - was wrongly reported to have "tested positive" in a mix-up of urine samples last August.

According to reports in Spain, its Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) explained in a communique that Madrid’s anti-doping lab made the mix up prior to initiating the testing procedure, and one sample which was clean was contaminated with another that contained a high level of a banned substance.

The AEA said that the lab then informed the innocent athlete and his federation that he had tested positive, but when the B sample came through clear and the lab recognised the error - which they rapidly communicated to WADA - no further action was taken against him.

The Madrid lab has now been suspended for three months, effective from December 21st, and the person responsible for quality control has resigned.

Spain has two accredited anti-doping labs, in Madrid and Barcelona, and neither has had any previous suspensions. Madrid has been carrying out anti-doping tests since 1969 and deals with around 8,000 separate samples a year.

The news could not have come at a worse time for Madrid, as it builds towards presenting its candidature for the Olympic Games in 2020. It also coincided with the Supreme Court’s decision to restore the 2005 Vuelta a Espana title to Roberto Heras, a verdict has been linked to alleged irregularities in the anti-doping protocol during the analysis of his samples back in 2005.

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