World Anti-Doping Agency president Sir Craig Reedie has assured athletes they can trust the drug-testing system despite a recent spate of issues at anti-doping laboratories.

WADA recently suspended accreditation of laboratories in Beijing, Bloemfontein, and Lisbon. News of the suspension of Portuguese centre came on the same day the World Anti-Doping Agency revoked the scandal-hit Moscow laboratory’s accreditation. These four labs combined to do 15 percent of all tests conducted by the anti-doping centers of WADA in 2014. Reedie remarked suspensions of the laboratories were a direct result of WADA’s strengthened laboratory monitoring process noting the high level of interest surrounding the recent suspensions. The 75-year-old Scot added it is for this very reason that clean athletes should have full confidence in the system.

The Beijing, Bloemfontein, and Lisbon laboratories lost their right to test samples because WADA found their failure to either detect banned substances or they reported false positives, often because of outdated equipment.

Reedie added more testing will be done across the board ahead of the Games rather than less despite these closures, and that will be done by individual sports and countries. Testing is actually busier than it’s been before. The WADA President added the system will continue to work properly and, as far as the Olympics are concerned, we have a task force coming back with good reports from Rio de Janeiro about the laboratory getting up to speed there for the Olympics. Reedie also commented that there are sensible procedures in place for the build-up to the Games and during them to ensure that people are properly tested.

The World Anti-Doping Agency president said the suspended laboratories would get assistance from the Montreal-based organization. Reedie said this assistance would be to improve standards of the laboratories so they can make a return to the fight against doping. However, Reedie’s predecessor Dick Pound, has a simpler remedy to get rid of the failing labs and concentrate on a few good ones.

Pound, while speaking at the Sport Resolutions conference in London, said it is not as important as whether a specific country has a lab or not as if it is got one within reasonable reach. The former WADA chief said he would rather than 10 really good labs than 35 of them with 25 that are not very good. The comments of Pound were supported by Richard Ings, the former boss of the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority, who remarked they need 10-12 mega labs with cutting-edge equipment, great training and, most critically, the analytical ability to detect all doping substances and added that would also give them the scale to significantly push down the cost per test.

The assurance of Reedie that other WADA-accredited laboratories would be able to fill the breach left by the suspended centers in leading Olympic nations such as China and Russia did not convinced Renee Anne Shirley, the ex-head of Jamaica’s Anti-Doping Commission. Renee raised questions on ability of other labs for handling an influx of samples and still managing to maintain rigor and turnaround time. The former head of Jamaica’s Anti-Doping Commission added the costs are already huge, in particular the shipping costs and several of the laboratories still accredited cannot handle some of the more sophisticated tests.

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