Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

WADA suspends Olympic drug testing lab

Six weeks before the Summer Olympics open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the laboratory that was set to handle drug testing at the Games was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a new escalation of world sport's doping crisis.

WADA, which, as the global regulator of doping in sports, oversees some three dozen testing labs around the world, confirmed the suspension Friday, citing a "nonconformity" with international standards.

The Rio lab had a prior disciplinary record and is one of a handful of labs whose certification to conduct drug testing has been revoked by WADA in the regulator's 17-year history. Among them is Moscow's antidoping lab, which was disciplined fall after accusations of a government-run doping program in Russia.

Those allegations, which centered on track and field athletes, have caused global sports officials to bar Russia from the Rio games. At the urging of Olympic officials, 27 other Summer Olympics sports organizations are scrutinizing athletes from Russia and Kenya, another country facing accusations of widespread doping, ahead of the games.

On Friday, WADA did not specify what issues with the Rio facility had prompted its action. According to reports, the investigation centered on a specific case.

The Rio lab was previously suspended in 2013 — the year before Brazil hosted soccer's World Cup — and was reinstated by WADA last year.

To win back its certification, the lab spent roughly $60 million to train more than 90 technicians and retrofit three floors of facilities at a federal university in Rio. That project necessitated a substantial commitment of government money.

The new suspension took effect Wednesday, according to WADA. The lab can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland within 21 days.

While under suspension, the lab is barred from conducting any anti-doping analysis on urine and blood samples. It was unclear Friday if the issue would be resolved — and the suspension lifted — in time for the Olympics. Officials were skeptical that such a dramatic reversal could be processed.

In the meantime, WADA said it would transfer any samples at the lab to a different facility outside Brazil for testing.

"WADA will work closely with the Rio laboratory to resolve the identified issue," Olivier Niggli, WADA's incoming director general, said in a statement. "Athletes can have confidence that the suspension will only be lifted by WADA when the laboratory is operating optimally."

DIVING: USA Diving was awarded a second spot in the women's 3-meter competition for the Games after initially qualifying only one diver. World governing body FINA reallocated unused quota spots on Friday it was getting another. The American women's 3-meter final is Sunday. The top three: Kassidy Cook, Abby Johnston and Laura Ryan.

NO THANKS: Wizards guard Bradley Beal declined an invitation to play for the United States in the Olympics. The former Gator said he wants to get in shape for next season. Also, South African golfer Branden Grace withdrew, citing concerns about the Zika virus.

NIKE DROPS LAWSUIT: Nike dropped its lawsuit against Boris Berian over what brand of gear he wears, freeing the middle-distance runner to concentrate on the Olympic trials next week. Nike accused him of breach of contract, believing it had matched an endorsement offer from New Balance Athletics Inc., which Berian preferred.

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