Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) responded to athlete queries concerning anti-doping in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by publishing a Question and Answer (Q&A) document that it developed in consultation with its Athlete Committee. This follows on from WADA’s COVID-19 guidance that was issued on 20 March to Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) worldwide.
WADA President Witold Bańka said: “WADA and the global anti-doping community are prioritizing public health, safety and social responsibility. As we continue to meet the challenges of this pandemic, the health of athletes and all those involved in clean sport, will continue to be front-of-mind.
“WADA acknowledges how difficult this situation has been and will continue to be for athletes as they deal with the strict measures that have been put in place around the world, which are disrupting their training programs and creating uncertainty as to what is in store for their upcoming competitions. The anti-doping community has banded together to adjust its daily operations by suspending or reducing some of its programs, including testing and other activities. As difficult as this is for everyone, we must stay strong. We will get through this situation and everyone hopes that we can return the global anti-doping system to full power as soon as we emerge.”
Chair of the WADA Athlete Committee Ben Sandford said: “In these difficult times, we must all do our part to stay safe, keep others safe and look out for each other. We are athletes, but first of all we are human. It is important that we listen to our government health authorities and do our part to minimize the likelihood of transmission and impact on society. The situation clearly goes well beyond anti-doping and sport and this document is designed to address some specific concerns that athletes may have right now as we navigate the path ahead.
“Athletes should be aware that testing can continue where appropriate, where possible and with the necessary health and hygiene protocols in place. It is important to ensure the integrity of the overall system is maintained as much as possible. WADA will continue to identify any gaps in the program and advise relevant ADOs accordingly so that they can adjust their testing programs going forward.”
The Q&A covers issues such as:
- Ongoing testing
- Minimizing the risk of contracting or transmitting the virus
- Filing of whereabouts information
- Validating Therapeutic Use Exemptions
- Maintaining the integrity of the anti-doping system
- Refusing to comply with testers at this time
WADA will continue to liaise with athletes and ADOs in the interest of publishing updates regarding the Agency’s response to COVID-19 as the situation evolves.