World anti-doping body probes Sochi testing lab
Johannesburg: Doping tests for next year`s Winter Olympics in Russia and football World Cup in Brazil might be a foreign affair, as global doping policing body WADA hinted it is investigating the Moscow laboratory.
Outgoing World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey confirmed "there is a matter that is being considered" about Russia`s accredited anti-doping testing lab, three months after WADA revoked accreditation for Rio de Janeiro.
He gave no time-frame for the probe, but would comment "when the process is properly concluded", Fahey told media at a global anti-doping conference in Johannesburg yesterday.
Up to now cancelling accreditation has been one of the few tools WADA has had to police the anti-doping fight.
New global anti-doping rules, due to be passed on Friday, will give it more power to perform doping controls itself and investigate non-compliance with the code.
The revised code will come into effect in 2015.
"The accreditation of laboratories is related to quality," said Fahey, adding that "the standard for quality is extraordinarily high -- as it should be."
Global sport leaders discussed lab standards on Thursday, the third and penultimate day of the conference to decide the future of the battle against illegal performance-enhancers.
If Moscow loses its accreditation, it cannot test athletes` urine and blood samples for banned substances in the Winter Olympics in Sochi from February 7 to 23.
Testing will start well before the opening day, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has extended its pre-competition anti-doping programme by over 400 tests to 1,269, compared to the Vancouver Games in 2010.
The IOC would then have to fly samples to another country for testing -- potentially a costly matter.
Earlier this week global football body FIFA said it would fly around 800 footballers` samples from Brazil for testing in Switzerland during the World Cup from June 12 to July 13.
The announcement followed WADA`s revocation of the Rio de Janeiro laboratory`s accreditation in August, and comments that it will not be reaccredited in time.
"They failed simply to meet the requirements," WADA vice-president Arne Ljungqvist told AFP.
WADA`s stringent rules have seen a few laboratories lose the right to test for banned drugs, and on Tuesday the labs said they wanted a bigger say in the accreditation process.
"They wish to have more influence in the procedures where accreditation of laboratories are to be questioned," said Ljungqvist, that the proposal had come in light of revocation of accreditation for Malaysia`s Penang laboratory in 2010.
But a legal opinion had rebutted the request.
"There will be interference with something where they have conflict of interest," said Ljungqvist.
WADA carries out regular quality controls on its 35 laboratories worldwide to ensure that they are not falsely declaring positive samples and they are reporting abnormal results.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the decision a year later, saying the Penang lab had identified false positives for Egyptian footballer Hossam Ghaly and a female American marathon runner.
Ghaly and two other players were suspended after the test result which ended up being false.
The International Standard for Laboratories is the only of four discussed which needs some tweaks at WADA`s executive committee meeting on Friday, the body`s secretary general David Howman told journalists.
The changes concerned "a technical issue which relates to the storage of samples and the way that they can be reanalysed," he said without elaborating.
On Friday the conference will also elect the new WADA president.
Scotsman Craig Reedie, an International Olympic Committee deputy president, is the only candidate and his appointment is seen as a formality.