Olympics-COVID cuts hit anti-doping program at Tokyo Games By Reuters

by akoloy

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Olympic rings are seen close to the National Stadium in Tokyo

By Steve Keating

(Reuters) – Anti-Doping accreditations for the Tokyo Olympics have been reduce because of COVID-19 however the core administration crew accountable for delivering a drug-free Games will stay intact, the pinnacle of the International Testing Agency (ITA) informed Reuters.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will even be impacted by a 20% discount in its International Observer (IO) crew from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“The IOC understood very well you cannot joke around some of the key functions you need at the Games and luckily we were not that affected,” ITA director common Ben Cohen stated.

“We had a number of accreditations for experts from different national agencies we wanted to invite to take part in running the program and those failed but for the core ITA team luckily this was maintained.

“We have the crew that was determined on the very starting, greater than 25 on website.”

WADA’s presence at the Tokyo Games will also be cut back with the observer team trimmed from 10 to eight and educational programs scrapped.

“We are assured that the IO crew will be capable of fulfill it necessary function successfully inside what can be distinctive set of circumstances this yr,” WADA told Reuters in an email.

The Tokyo Olympics will be the first where anti-doping is fully managed by an independent agency, the ITA replacing previous setups operated by host organising committees and their national anti-doping agencies supported by the International Olympic Committee.

COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges for the ITA, particularly regarding out-of-competition testing at the Games.

With athletes only allowed into the Village five days prior to their events competitors could be spread out across Japan, creating a logistical headache for doping control officers.

“It goes to be a problem for us,” Cohen said. “I feel the complexity round COVID can be whether or not we will flow into.

“In a normal Olympics 90% of athletes are in the village so it makes it easier to test them pre-competition.”


Both the ITA and WADA guarantee there can be no holes in testing throughout the crucial run-up to the Games.

The Tokyo 2020 Pre-Games Expert Group, headed by the ITA, has carried out a threat evaluation of athletes prone to compete in Tokyo and has issued round 26,000 testing suggestions to anti-doping organisations.

All 33 Olympic sports activities had been included within the overview and a report issued greater than six months previous to the beginning of the Games set for July 23.

The complete overview and the early issuing of suggestions make this essentially the most intensive pre-Games anti-doping program ever applied, the ITA stated.

For the 2016 Rio Olympics the pre-Games anti-doping program began one month earlier than the opening ceremony and was comprised of just one,500 suggestions for seven at-risk disciplines.

Testing throughout the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak was dramatically lowered however has nearly returned to pre-pandemic ranges.

According to the most recent WADA figures, there have been 13,918 out-of-competition checks recorded in March, double the 6,868 taken in the identical month final yr and greater than the pre-pandemic 13,139 counted in 2019.

Those numbers are sure to rise with the crush from a backlog of Olympic qualifiers placing additional strain on pre-Games testing.

“The critical period will be now all the way until the Games,” Cohen stated. “We just know we have to target the right athletes, the right sports, the right disciplines and work hand-in-hand with the national anti-doping agencies.

“The sources are restricted, the time is proscribed and the significance of the qualifier is crucial.

“We cannot miss there, we have to be very focused and do the testing on the right athletes.”

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