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WADA Updates Guidance as Anti-Doping Organizations Aim to Restart Testing

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A woman walks into the head office for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 9, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

By Michael Pavitt |

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has updated its guidance for Anti-Doping Organizations (ADO) as several aim to restart or return to normal doping control programs in their countries.

The latest update follows guidance issued on March 20, which provided advice on developing specific guidelines, procedures and training for sample collection personnel, as well as ensuring those collecting samples do not show any symptoms related to coronavirus.

Sample collection personnel should also be instructed to ask athletes upon initial communication whether anyone at the testing location is sick, experiencing symptoms or in the at-risk demographic.

WADA said the guidance has been refined to reflect the evolving nature of the pandemic, its effect on the global testing programme and the fact that some parts of the world that had suspended or significantly reduced testing are getting back to normal as COVID-19 restrictions begin to be lifted.

The guidance concentrates in particular on what procedures should be employed by ADOs and their sample collection personnel when conducting testing during this period.

WADA has advised ADOs to consider several criteria to guide its decision on how and when testing should resume, including the status of the virus and whether there are movement restrictions.

Considerations should also include whether sport and competitions are beginning to resume in the country, the amount of personal protective equipment and whether it could be difficult to provide or potentially jeopardise its availability to frontline health care workers.

Organizations should also assess the status of their WADA accredited laboratory, including whether there are restrictions related to the shipment of samples.

A phased approach has been suggested should testing resume, with WADA saying out-of-competition testing ideally should focus on home visits where only one athlete is tested.

Collection of urine samples would keep the number of sample collection personnel to a minimum, with advice to consider blood sample collections only if intelligence warrants it or if blood samples for the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) are urgently required from athletes in high-risk endurance sports.

Further advice includes a call to consider focusing on registered testing pool athletes from high-risk sports, athletes from sports and disciplines where training is still possible and athletes from whom there is intelligence, a suspicious ABP profile or an Athlete Passport Management Unit recommendation for testing.

WADA suggest organizations slowing increase the pool of athletes tested as they eventually aim to resume a full testing program.

Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment is included, such as the use of gloves, face masks and disinfectant products, as well as clear instructions on hand washing and physical distancing.

Recommendations are also made over sample collection personnel and the information and communication strategy for athletes and other stakeholders.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, WADA has been keeping in close contact with Anti-Doping Organisations in order to provide leadership and support in the face of this unprecedented situation,” said Witold Bańka, WADA President.

“As always, our first priority must be public health, safety and social responsibility.

“Therefore, we continue to urge everyone to follow closely the advice of relevant health authorities and Government agencies.

“Where testing programs can resume, we are providing clear guidance so that the integrity of the system can be maintained without jeopardizing the health of athletes, sample collection personnel or anyone coming into contact with them.

“It is crucial that the system can return to full power as quickly as possible once the various restrictions are lifted, in line with the different circumstances around the world.

“What this pandemic has demonstrated is the need for further innovation in anti-doping. 

“WADA knows that to make anti-doping more effective, we continually need to innovate.

“Our work, in collaboration with the wider anti-doping community, researching new sample collection and analytical techniques has been ramped up, in particular in the areas of dried-blood-spot analysis and artificial intelligence.

“We continue to develop practical applications for these innovations while ensuring the appropriate consultation process is followed, and that they are legally sound and in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code and related international standard before coming into force.”

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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