Beijing, Mar 21 : The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has updated guidelines amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance was refined following a teleconference meeting on Friday of the WADA, National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) Advisory Group which provides expert advice in promoting effective doping control strategies and plans.
WADA is monitoring the situation based on expert information from the World Health Organization and from other reliable sources. Most countries are putting strict measures in place, which include border closures, quarantine/self-isolation, cancellation of flights, social movement restrictions, etc. As a result, many sporting events have been cancelled or postponed.
This has forced WADA and its stakeholders to adjust daily operations by instituting teleworking and, in the case of many ADOs, suspending or reducing doping control programs (including testing and other activities), according to the updated guidelines. The guidelines noted that Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) should continue to collect whereabouts from athletes in whereabouts pools to monitor their movements during the pandemic as it can be useful information and intelligence, including if the athlete is travelling or training abroad (then the athlete could potentially be tested abroad by either a NADO or their IF). The guidelines also advise ADOs, if testing program can continue, need to put enhanced measures in place, consistent with the recommendations from health care authorities, to protect the health and safety of the sample collection personnel, the athletes and anyone else involved in the process.
Those measures include to ensure sample collection personnel who are conducting missions are healthy, provide medical masks (if available) and gloves, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, etc, along with instructions on how to properly use and dispose of the materials, to sample collection personnel. If the testing program cannot continue, the ADOs should adjust their programs accordingly and continually monitor the situation. Once the situation begins to return to normal, all stakeholders can work together to address the identified gaps, in particular as it relates to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, said WADA.
WADA President Witold Banka said: "The sports world is dealing with an unprecedented situation. COVID-19 has forced all anti-doping stakeholders, including WADA, to adjust the way daily operations are conducted. But this matter goes way beyond anti-doping and sport -- it is a global emergency -- and our first priority must be public health, safety and social responsibility." WADA said it will continue to publish updates regarding its response to COVID-19 as the situation evolves. (UNI-Xinhua)