Olympic Drug-Testing Quality Questioned

Moscow laboratory provisionally suspended

Nov 18, 2013
Outside Magazine
Needs Syrings Drugs Doping

The Moscow anti-doping laboratory has been provisionally suspended for six months.    Shutterstock/Snvv

With fewer than three months until the Sochi Winter Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency has provisionally suspended Moscow's anti-doping laboratory for six months over questions of integrity. The Russian program will lose accreditation unless steps are taken toward reform within the next two weeks.

Reformation requirements for the Moscow Anti-Doping Center (extending to its Sochi satellite) include hiring indepedent "quality management" experts to help construct a new management system of accuracy and reliability by December 1—and putting that new system into place by April 1.

If these stipulations are met, "then the...six-month suspension of accreditation of the Moscow laboratory shall never come into effect," WADA said in a statement.

WADA regularly assesses the integrity of its accredited labs by sending them "blind samples" for testing and then checking for any false positives or false negatives. In August, WADA suspended a Rio de Janeiro laboratory in charge of drug tests for next year's World Cup. Footballers' samples will now be diverted to Switzerland for testing.

If the Moscow laboratory's accreditation is similarly revoked by WADA, the host city will have to stomach the cost (and the embarrassment) of exporting samples to other labs—while already footing the largest bill of any Olympics, at $51 billion.

The Moscow Anti-Doping Center may appeal the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the next 21 days.