Accreditation Of Africa’s Only Doping Lab Suspended By WADA

On Tuesday, the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended the accreditation of the drug-testing laboratory in South Africa, which is the only accredited facility in Africa until after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Suspension of the accreditation means the South African doping control laboratory in Bloemfontein would now not be able to analyze any doping samples for five months — until September 30 — for failing to meet WADA standards.  The lab in the central city of Bloemfontein receives doping test samples from many other African countries, including top distance-running nations Kenya and Ethiopia and they now have to use other facilities.

Lacea Loader, communications director at the University of the Free State, said the lab did not plan to appeal the suspension as the shutdown was planned with the World Anti-Doping Agency to allow the facility to upgrade equipment and give staff more training. She remarked it was an amicable decision made in conjunction with WADA and added the facility is expected to re-open once the necessary steps have been taken.

The lab said it was not possible to upgrade its services while still continuing with its day-to-day work associated with testing samples. In a statement, the lab said technical and infrastructure adaptations need to be continuously implemented in the laboratory to keep up with the demands because of ever-increasing demands on the number, variety and analytical sensitivity of compounds to be analyzed according to the Prohibited List of WADA. It was also remarked that this has to be done while normal routine analysis continues and it became clear that at present, implementation cannot be successfully accomplished together with the workload from normal routine analyses.

In a statement, WADA said the suspension covers all anti-doping testing including analyses of urine and blood samples. It was further added by WADA that samples during the period of suspension are required to be transported securely to another WADA-accredited laboratory, ensuring that athletes can have full confidence in continued high quality sample analysis and the wider anti-doping system.

The lab, which is based at Bloemfontein’s University of the Free State, previously said it would be upgrading its facilities for six months from the beginning of April and would send some samples to Doha to be tested during that time. It said urine samples would be sent to Doha but would still be able to analyze blood samples. However, the recent suspension imposed by WADA means the South African lab cannot analyze any samples. The World Anti-Doping Agency remarked the lab can apply for the suspension to be lifted before September 30.

South Africa is due to host the African Track And Field Championships in June but the decision of WADA will complicate the doping control program for the championships as organizers now set to have to fly samples to a laboratory on another continent.

Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended the accreditations of doping labs in Beijing and Lisbon, Portugal, and revoked the accreditation of the lab in Moscow after allegations of wide-ranging corruption in the anti-doping program of Russia. Brazil managed to avoid losing the accreditation of its lab in Rio de Janeiro in March; the lab needs to test thousands of doping samples at the Olympics in August.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Accreditation Of Africa’s Only Doping Lab Suspended By WADA