Again, the sports world was shaken by a doping scandal. The McLaren report reveals a systematic, stately approved doping in Russia. The participation of Russian athletes at the Summer Olympic Games, which begin on 5th August in Rio, are questionable at least. Against this background, the work of the anti-doping laboratories in Rio is even more vital. If it were not for the following problem.
No doping laboratory in Rio de Janeiro
In May 2016 WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) withdrew the accreditation for the doping laboratory in Rio de Janeiro after the latter had struggled with serious technical problems. WADA sets strict regulation for the doping laboratories concerning the analysis of blood and urine samples and for the samples´storing. Currently 28 laboratories are accredited by the WADA worldwide and have permission to process doping samples.
Odds are, that the expected 5,000 doping samples which will be obtained during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be transported via cold-chain to other countries`accredited laboratories for analysis. In addition there are further 1,000 doping samples for the Paralympics in September 2016. Under discussion are accredited laboratories in the USA, Columbia and Mexico.
Transport problems of doping samples
A similar situation occurred during the FIFA World Cup in summer 2014. Back then the doping laboratory in Rio lost its WADA accreditation shortly before the opening of the game, too. More than 1000 samples of footballers had to be transported from the 12 venues over 9,460 kilometers to the doping laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.
This entails long transport routes that raise the question of the transports´security. The blood and urine samples must be transported in compliance with the cold chain at a constant temperature of 2-8 ° C, so that the samples do not get unusable. In addition, it must be ensured that transported samples cannot be manipulated. In the light of the McLaren report on the almost cinematic approach of the Secret Service to get the positive doping tests of Russian athletes in Sochi, this risk is not even farfetched.
The long transport routes also increase the contestability of samples. It is on the organizer to prove that the samples were being safely and as quickly as possible transported to analysis in case an athlete tested positive is going to court. Last but not least this complex transportation logistics is causing immense additional costs.
WADA suspends further doping laboratories
The Brazilian Doping Laboratory is one of five laboratories worldwide, whose accreditation WADA has withdrawn in 2016. In April the laboratories in Moscow and Beijing were suspended, in May the laboratory in Bloemfontaine, South Africa, and in June the laboratory in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The problem that doping samples must be transported to other countries for analyzing therefore will remain in the long term.