• Winter Olympics

WADA provisionally suspend Sochi lab

ESPN staff
November 18, 2013
Thomas Bach revealed the Sochi Games will be the most drug-tested Winter Olympics ever © AP

The Russian drug-testing lab to be used for the Sochi Winter Olympics has until December 1 to significantly improve the reliability of their results or faces suspension.

The Moscow Antidoping Centre was provisionally suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Sunday. WADA says the lab's operations must be brought up to standard or they will place a six-month ban on the facility's accreditation.

WADA's announcement comes just three months before the start of the Games. The lab must prepare a quality management programme to increase confidence in their operations, and demonstrate that by April 1, 2014 the overhaul has been "drafted, finalised, implemented and embedded."

Though they are not the responsible medical authority for the upcoming Olympics, WADA also "strongly suggests" the IOC "consider appropriate action to ensure the complete integrity of all analysis" at the Moscow lab and their satellite facility at Sochi.

The IOC have backed the Russian facility, saying they are "confident that all the necessary measures will be taken and the Sochi lab will be fully functioning during the Games."

"The integrity of the Games-time testing program will remain unaffected by these developments, indeed it will be strengthened," an IOC statement added.

In a bid to check that their accredited labs are functioning properly, WADA regularly send them 'blind samples' - samples aimed to test labs are giving correct findings instead of false positives or false negatives.

WADA can revoke accreditation for labs deemed non-compliant - as they have done with the Rio de Janeiro lab which had been in line to test samples at the football World Cup in Brazil next year. As a result, FIFA are being forced to fly World Cup samples to a lab in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Moscow lab in question handled tests during the World Championships in August. Should they have their accreditation revoked by WADA their Sochi facility would likely be unable to operate.

IOC president Thomas Bach announced last week that Sochi will be the most drug-tested Games in Winter Olympics history. There will be a total of 2,453 tests before and during the event, with 1,269 pre-competition tests at a cost of "many millions" of dollars.

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