WADA suspends accreditation of Africa's only doping lab
MONTREAL (AP) The World Anti-Doping Agency on Tuesday suspended the accreditation of the drug-testing laboratory in South Africa, the only accredited facility in Africa, until after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The South African lab won't be able to analyze any doping samples for five months - until Sept. 30 - for failing to meet WADA standards. WADA will carry out inspection visits during the suspension to ensure improvements are made.
Many other African countries, including top distance-running nations Kenya and Ethiopia, send doping test samples to the lab in the central city of Bloemfontein. They will now have to use other facilities.
South Africa is due to host the African track and field championships in June, but WADA's decision will complicate the doping control program for that event with organizers now set to have to fly samples to a lab on another continent.
The South African lab previously said it would be upgrading its facilities for six months from the beginning of April, and would send some samples to Doha, Qatar, to be tested during that time. The lab, which is based at Bloemfontein's University of the Free State, said it would send urine samples to Qatar but would still be able to analyze blood samples.
On Tuesday, WADA suspended it from analyzing any samples. The lab can apply for the suspension to be lifted before Sept. 30, WADA said.
Bloemfontein is the latest facility to lose its accreditation. Last month, WADA suspended the accreditations of doping labs in Beijing and Lisbon, Portugal, and revoked the accreditation of the lab in Moscow following allegations of wide-ranging corruption in the Russian anti-doping program.
In March, Brazil just avoided losing the accreditation of its lab in Rio de Janeiro, which needs to test thousands of doping samples at the Olympics in August.