China’s anti-doping agency must be beyond reproach
Suspension of body ahead of Olympic Games for reporting false results brings shame on country and is unfair to those who compete fairly
Suspension for failing a drug test is a blow to an athlete and his or her sport, but vindication of the role of a strong anti-doping regime in safeguarding the credibility of competition. Suspension of the accreditation of a national anti-doping laboratory itself after failing a review just ahead of the Olympic Games is an unmitigated embarrassment. That is what happened to the National Anti-Doping Agency in Beijing last Thursday after it reported two false negative results in a double-blind test conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency last October.
As a result Wada has suspended the Chinese agency for four months from conducting any Wada-related anti-doping tests, including any analysis of blood and urine samples. During this time samples must be transported securely to another Wada-accredited laboratory – a requirement that also applies to Hong Kong, which normally sends samples to Beijing for testing. China has 21 days in which to lodge an appeal and can apply for early reinstatement if it satisfies Wada’s disciplinary panel that it has taken five required remedial steps in its testing regime.
The timing is significant, since four months takes the ban up to the Rio Olympic Games beginning on August 5 and is a time when China usually does intensive internal testing. Delegation of testing to other laboratories will put pressure on them during a busy period. It remains to be seen if this affects the size or composition of the Chinese team for Rio.
It also follows the suspension of the Moscow anti-doping centre over the destruction of nearly 1,500 competitors’ samples, and a scandal over inaction by world athletics body the IAAF on hundreds of suspicious samples. This all reflects the pressure on athletes to enhance performance, and the tireless efforts of sports drug chemists to stay ahead of the regulatory and testing regime.
China sets great store by the achievements of its sports stars. As the biggest Olympic nation, and for the sake of the reputations of those who compete fairly, it must strive to put its drug-testing regime beyond reproach.