The Doping Control Laboratory in South Africa has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
It is the fourth body to be suspended in a month by WADA from carrying out any anti-doping activities.
The decision brings to 31, the number of WADA-accredited labs operating around the world. Of the number, none is in Africa.
The suspension, which takes effect immediately, prohibits the Laboratory from carrying out any anti-doping activities including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
WADA suspends doping control lab in Bloemfontein, South Africa until Sept 30. Translation: there are currently no accredited labs in Africa.— Sara Germano (@germanotes) May 3, 2016
In an exclusive interview with Africanews; Ben Nichols, lead WADA spokesperson explained that quality standards are key to operating a doping lab.
“Whenever WADA has reason to believe that laboratories have not met high level of quality standards, we have the right to form a disciplinary committee and take a decision to suspend the laboratory. We have an ongoing monitoring process throughout the year because when we accredit a laboratory we need to ensure it’s up on good standards so that athletes are confident their samples are being tested according to excellent world class standards,” Nichols said.
He however assured other avenues exist for African athletes to get tested.
“Certainly the timing of this before the Olympics is a concern among the athlete community. But there are very good procedures put in place to ensure that samples get sent to another laboratory so they can be tested fully. We have 35 laboratories worldwide to do this so we are going to make sure these samples get sent to another laboratory that is operating according to the standards,” he added.
His explanation is backed by an earlier “WADA statement” which said:
“The suspension, which takes effect immediately, prohibits the Laboratory from carrying out any anti-doping activities including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
“During the period of suspension, samples 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.”
Wada has said the SA outfit can apply for reinstatement on or before September 30.