Near Collapse Of Anti-Doping Program At Rio Games Cited By WADA

The World Anti-Doping Agency has remarked the doping control management system at the recently-concluded Rio de Janeiro Olympics was only saved from collapsing by the "enormous resourcefulness and goodwill" of some key staff.

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In a 55-page report from its independent observer team led by British lawyer Jonathan Taylor, WADA has detailed serious failings of doping control management. The World Anti-Doping Agency remarked the logistical issues that put a huge strain on the testing process were "foreseeable and entirely avoidable" during the games in August. The report went on to blame budget cutbacks, tension between the local organizing committee and Brazil's anti-doping agency, lack of coordination, and inadequate training for the problems that included days when only half of the out-of-competition samples could be collected in the athletes village. The report also disclosed a lack of catering for chaperones resulted in higher-than-expected rates of absences, poor planning, and transport issues added to the burden on doping control officers and other delegates.

The independent observer report further disclosed that many athletes ultimately targeted for testing in the athletes’ village simply could not be found and the mission had to be aborted. It was also revealed that up to 50 per cent of planned target tests were aborted in this way on some days. The report also said the sample collection process in the village was so strained that it came "close to breaking point." The report said it was ultimately only due to the enormous resourcefulness and goodwill of some key doping control personnel working at the games that the process did not break down entirely. The WADA report said the many problems identified above were patched over and sample collection was conducted in a manner that ensured the identity and integrity of the samples due to their initiative, tenacity and professionalism in the face of great difficulties.

In a stunning revelation, the WADA report disclosed that no out-of-competition testing was conducted in soccer and "little or no in-competition blood testing" in some high risk-sports, including weightlifting.

Seven athletes in four sports — weightlifting, cycling, swimming and track and field — were sanctioned for doping offenses during the Rio Games.

Rio organizers accepted some of the responsibility for the testing failures in a statement but also blamed Brazil's government. Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said we should have been more efficient in protecting the access to the doping control areas in some venues. The spokesman added most of the content of the report, however, has to do with hardware and operational issues of the lab, which are a responsibility of the federal government and the sports ministry.

Richard Budgett, the International Olympic Committee's medical director, said the report showed the integrity of the program was ensured despite some challenges the organizing committee had to overcome such as a lack of resources and trained volunteers and staff. Budgett added recommendations of the report would be studied by the IOC and passed on to a new independent testing body that is being set up ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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