Doping: Wada issues dope testing guidelines amid coronavirus pandemic

MONTREAL (AFP) – The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) issued new guidelines on Friday (March 20) to facilitate continued testing amid the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic.

Noting that the spread of Covid-19 had evolved into “an even greater health and societal emergency” since its March 6 communique, Wada urged Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) to act in accordance with restrictions placed by local health authorities “to ensure proper protection of athletes and doping control personnel, while protecting the integrity of doping control programs, particularly in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

Wada’s latest guidelines advise anti-doping organisations to make sure that sample collectors are free from any symptoms of illness.

Collectors should also ask athletes if they have any symptoms or if they or anyone at the collection site are in the groups thought to be at heightened risk from Covid-19.

If test collection personnel are found to have contracted the virus, athletes they tested should be informed and vice versa, Wada said.

Protective wear such as masks should be used and work surfaces disinfected, and if local conditions limit what testing can occur then ADOs should “consider focusing their testing programme on targeted athletes from high risk sports and disciplines”, Wada said.

In locations where testing programmes cannot continue, Wada said, it and other anti-doping organisations and sports federations will work together “once the situation begins to return to normal” to identify gaps in testing “particularly as it relates to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

Wada said anti-doping organisations should continue to obtain information on whereabouts of athletes normally gathered to facilitate out-of-competition testing.

Athletes are still responsible for obtaining therapeutic use exemptions and “should be reminded that they can still be tested at any place, any time”, Wada said.

With some Wada accredited laboratories already closed and others likely to follow suit, Wada said testing organisations should contact the Montreal-based organisation for information on what labs might be able to receive samples.

“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 programme provides a level of flexibility and understanding based on the circumstances,” Wada said.

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