Sports scramble for new drug testing in Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s doping scandal has forced international sports leaders to find new drug-testing facilities for winter events being held in the country.
Russia’s national anti-doping agency and drug-testing lab have both been suspended after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission said they helped to cover up a systematic doping program. That means they can no longer collect doping samples or carry out tests.
Ahead of a busy winter sports season in Russia, which hosted the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, sports leaders have sought solutions elsewhere, sometimes at short notice.
The International Skating Union had planned to use the Moscow lab but had to switch to a German facility for the Grand Prix figure skating event that opened Friday in the capital.
“The whole situation has been very unusual,” the ISU told The Associated Press in an email.
The situation is uncertain for FIS, which organizes skiing and snowboard events. It has a busy winter calendar in Russia, including a December 11-13 World Cup ski jumping competition followed by several freestyle events.
“I’m sure that we will probably come up with a plan before the December 11 deadline,” FIS spokeswoman Jenny Wiedeke said. “I think WADA will probably instruct many other sports that are in the same scenario as to where they would like their doping tests carried out.”
The process of transporting samples out of the troubled Moscow lab has also begun. Swimming’s world governing body, FINA, said last week it would move 645 samples collected at July’s world championships in the Russian city of Kazan from Moscow to a WADA-accredited lab in Barcelona.
One sport not affected by the Russian doping scandal so far is soccer. Two Champions League games are to be played in Moscow and St. Petersburg next week, with two more in Ukraine and Israel, whose national anti-doping agencies were also suspended Wednesday by WADA.
UEFA said in a statement that it “has never used the Moscow lab” and that none of the suspensions will have any effect.
“Sample collection will take place as normal using accredited UEFA doping control officers from a neutral country and analysis will take place at one of the many European WADA-accredited laboratories that UEFA typically uses,” the European soccer body said.