Spain agency surprised by suspension of anti-doping lab
MADRID (AP) Spain's anti-doping agency said Tuesday it was caught by surprise by the World Anti-Doping Agency's decision to suspend the accreditation of the lab in Madrid.
The Spanish agency said it was seeking additional detail from WADA to see what action it could take to re-establish the lab's accreditation as soon as possible.
WADA announced the suspension late Monday, saying it was a direct result of a recent decision to declare the Spanish anti-doping agency, AEPSAD, non-compliant.
Spain has struggled to stay up-to-date with WADA's regulations because it needs the parliament to change the country's anti-doping legislation, but politicians still have not been able to form a government following elections last year.
''Right now we are analyzing the situation and trying to understand the details about the decision by WADA,'' the agency said in an email sent to The Associated Press. ''We didn't expect that decision.''
WADA said the agency has 21 days to appeal.
The suspension prohibits the Madrid lab from conducting any WADA-related anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
WADA said the Madrid lab could have maintained accreditation if, in the year before the declaration of non-compliance in March, at least 60 percent of samples analyzed were provided by anti-doping organizations outside of Spain. But evidence showed 69 percent of samples received in that period were from the local anti-doping agency, WADA said.
Spain has struggled to improve its image in the fight against doping.
Local athletes and officials have been anxiously waiting for a court ruling on the fate of hundreds of confiscated blood bags linked to Operation Puerto, the 2006 investigation which unveiled a doping network involving some of the world's top cyclists. The decision on whether the samples should be destroyed or re-used for evidence has been constantly delayed, further hurting the country's image.
Tennis star Rafael Nadal has been among those asking for the release of the blood bags, saying their destruction would only favor the athletes who decided to cheat.
Last month, Spanish hurdler Josephine Onyia was identified as one of the athletes who tested positive in a reanalysis of doping samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Just before those games, Spanish cyclist Maribel Moreno also tested positive for doping.
The Spanish Olympic Committee said Tuesday it would not comment on WADA's decision to remove the accreditation of the Madrid lab.
WADA said Spain's other laboratory in Barcelona maintained its accreditation.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni