WADA updates its COVID-19 testing guidance for Anti-Doping Organizations

As a follow up to its initial COVID-19 testing guidance for Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) published on 6 May, today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) provides an updated document, which has been renamed “Guidance for Testing during COVID-19 Pandemic”. This new Guidance was revised following a thorough review by WADA’s Strategic Testing Expert Group, with input from the World Health Organization and a group of National Anti-Doping Organizations.

The Guidance reflects the latest scientific knowledge on the evolving pandemic; as well as, the impact of COVID-19 on ADOs to date that was collected via WADA’s survey carried out in September 2020. It outlines how ADOs can best operate their testing programs in line with globally recommended health and hygiene procedures to protect the health and safety of athletes and sample collection personnel; and, in line with the International Standard for Testing and Investigations.

The Guidance includes the following enhancements:

  • A detailed assessment process to determine the level of sample collection that can take place;
  • Steps and procedures that an ADO should put in place prior to conducting a sample collection session;
  • Additional direction on how to prioritize testing and athletes, plus measures for conducting In-Competition testing; and
  • The testing of sample collection personnel for COVID-19 as an additional risk mitigation measure for ADOs to consider.

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: “WADA is pleased to provide this updated ADO Guidance to continue to help maintain the integrity of the anti-doping system during the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring the health and safety of athletes, sample collection personnel and others. Subject to the level of restrictions in place in each country, it is crucial that the testing of athletes continues and that ADOs have the necessary information and procedures to do so in a structured and safe way.”

“While COVID-19 has had an impact on testing, there has been a very strong commitment by ADOs over the past months to resume and continue to conduct testing under strengthened health and hygiene protocols. In October 2020, ADOs collected approximately 21,000 samples, and when compared to October 2019 this accounts for 76% of the total number of samples and 84% collected Out-of-Competition.”

“In times when testing may be temporarily diminished due to restrictions imposed by government authorities and with limited sports events being held, the anti-doping community has other tools to maintain the integrity of the anti-doping system. For example, the Athlete Biological Passport program can be used to assess the longer-term profile of each athlete; intelligence that is received through whistleblower programs such as WADA’s ‘Speak Up!’ can lead to target-testing and/or investigations; and, sample storage enables further analysis as science advances and detection techniques are refined. As the global leader of the fight against doping in sport, WADA wants to ensure that ADOs worldwide use everything at their disposal to secure the integrity of sporting events as they recommence.” 

WADA remains available to assist ADOs in supporting and monitoring their anti-doping program implementation and will continue to publish updates regarding its response to COVID-19 as the situation evolves.