Rio Lab Suspended Over Anti-Doping Testing Practices: Weeks Left Until Olympics

A Rio lab has been suspended by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), and with mere weeks left to go until the Olympic games are set to descend on the city, the country of Brazil seems to now lack the resources to properly screen those set to compete.

While the Rio lab is suspended from conducting further anti-doping screening on any blood or urine samples, Olivier Niggli, director of WADA, said in an organization statement that they will work with the lab to make good.

“WADA will work closely with the Rio laboratory to resolve the identified issue. The Agency will ensure that, for the time being, samples that would have been intended for the Laboratory, will be transported securely, promptly and with a demonstrable chain of custody to another WADA-accredited laboratory worldwide. This will ensure that there are no gaps in the anti-doping sample analysis procedures; and that, the integrity of the samples is fully maintained. Athletes can have confidence that the suspension will only be lifted by WADA when the Laboratory is operating optimally; and that, the best solution will be put in place to ensure that sample analysis for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games is robust.”

The statement made by WADA didn’t mention what the actual infraction was, but did mention that the suspended Rio lab in question is none other than the Brazilian Doping Control Laboratory, which was also suspended during the 2014 World Cup, which, just like WADA is proposing, forced FIFA to ship their samples elsewhere.

Brazilian Lab Techs Working At Suspended Rio Lab
Brazilian Lab Techs Working At Suspended Rio Lab [AP Photo/Felipe Dana]
Besides Olivier Niggli’s quote, the WADA statement also didn’t mention anything about plans for reinstatement of the lab, but it did say that the suspension could be overturned or made worse by a recommendation of either revocation or re-accreditation, from the Disciplinary Committee for the International Standard for Laboratories.

The Chicago Tribune quoted Mario Andrada, spokesman of the Rio Games organizing committee, who originally talked to the Associated Press.

“We might not resolve this lab situation before the games.”

The suspended Rio lab actually did lose its accreditation back in August of 2013, which was why it missed the 2014 World Cup, and it’s not looking good for the lab, considering that they were just reinstated by WADA last year. All of this after Brazil actually spent upwards of $60 million on a new facility and equipment in order to try and curb further suspensions, reported ESPN.

According to the BBC, Rio’s lab is the sixth to be suspended by WADA in the last few months, and there are 28 other labs worldwide that are accredited by WADA and able to perform the tests.

One possible way to ensure that this doesn’t happen again would be for the Olympics to have a lab themselves. This would not only help keep the standard of testing up to par, but also help countries like Brazil, who continue to take out massive loans and put a strain on their economy due to hosting multiple world events like the World Cup and Olympic games.

Blood Vial Anti Doping 2012 London Olympics
A lab tech performs an anti doping procedure for the the 2012 London Olympics. [Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]
The Rio lab has 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but if the lab isn’t reinstated by the time the Olympics are set to start, the International Olympic Committee will be in charge of directing WADA as to which approved lab they’re going to send the samples to.

The Olympic Games are set to commence in Rio on August 5.

[AP Photo/Renata Britto, File]

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