February 28, 2021

Anti-doping leaders want testing ‘surge’ after reduction during Covid-19

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Witold Banka
Wada president Witold Banka addressed the group of 17 anti-doping organisations from around the world during virtual meetings this week

Global anti-doping leaders want to see a “surge” in testing to ensure the coronavirus pandemic does not offer athletes “a free pass to dope”.

Testing levels around the world have fallen because of the restrictions in place to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Anti-doping bodies said they “understand clean athletes’ concerns” on the issue.

“The reduced level of testing worldwide is immensely frustrating,” a group of 17 anti-doping agencies said.

A statement backed by national anti-doping organisations from countries including the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, France, Germany and Japan added: “We encourage a surge in testing amounts by anti-doping organisations ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Given the increasingly broad nature of anti-doping strategies – this is a movement that no longer relies solely on testing – the global pandemic does not, and must not, be seen as a ‘free pass to dope’.”

The group of anti-doping agencies this week held virtual meetings to mark four years since the publication of The Copenhagen Declaration, which sought to strengthen how the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) tackled doping in sport.

Leaders agreed the consensus reached in the Copenhagen Declaration has “yet to be implemented” and said they want the World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) to find ways to go “further and faster with meaningful anti-doping reform”.

The group also raised concerns over the sacking of Yuri Ganus as head of Russia’s anti-doping agency Rusada last week.

Russian authorities accused him of presiding over serious financial violations, but Ganus denied the allegations and said he was removed because of his zero-tolerance approach to doping.

Last December, Wada banned Russia from big global sporting events for four years – including the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup – over doping violations.

The group of international anti-doping leaders said: “The world’s clean athletes need assurance that there is robust, compliant testing in Russia leading into the upcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Today, therefore, four years on from the Copenhagen Declaration, we make a unanimous stand in calling for Wada to be tough and to send a message by action to the athletes of the world that potential undue interference has no place in modern-day anti-doping.”