Drug testing in sports promotes fair play so that someone who uses banned performance-enhancing drugs does not get an undue advantage over others.
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) tests athletes and develops testing methods. The agency recently acknowledged difficulties in performing its duties during the COVID-19. The testing body recognizes the need to prioritize restraining coronavirus transmission, but it will put measures that protect athletes and personnel that collect samples.
However, the message to athletes is that they should still expect to test during this pandemic and the virus is unlikely to reach a level of justifying refusal to provide a sample.
Key Points for Athletes
1. Restriction-guided testing continues.
WADA confirmed that drug testing in sports during COVID-19 would continue but with some adjustments. The anti-doping tests will be fewer. Sample collectors will observe the necessary restrictions to control the spread of the virus. They will, upon arrival, wash hands and put on unused gloves. A distance of two meters from others must be observed when performing their duty.
2. Refusal of testing due to COVID-19 concerns
WADA encourages athletes to cooperate with testing crews considering that they will adhere to additional safety precautions. It reveals that the standard results management process follows in instances where sportspersons refuse testing or are unwilling to provide samples. The concerned party will get an opportunity to justify the action, but in the end, it may lead to charging for violating the anti-doping rule. Those found guilty could get a ban from participating in competitions for up to two years.
3. Athletes with COVID-19 symptoms
WADA instructs athletes with symptoms that show like they could be having COVID-19 to follow guidelines by the government, including self-isolation. It is their responsibility to immediately inform a doping control officer about the presence of the symptoms.
4. Information about location
The existence of COVID-19 has not changed the rule for athletes to provide information about their whereabouts and submit to testing. The guidance by WADA about COVID period testing states clearly that athletes should ensure that they update information about their location accurately on ADAMS.
Competition organizers have been suspending, canceling, or rescheduling different events, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Still, the message by WADA on drug testing in sports during COVID-19 is that it will not stop. The frequency will increase as life starts returning to normal, and there may be additional target tests to compensate for the current reduction.