Closed Olympic anti-doping lab in Rio waiting for WADA approval

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The shuttered anti-doping laboratory for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has been inspected by officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which will soon decide if the laboratory gets re-accredited, with the games opening in just over three weeks.

WADA said in an email to The Associated Press that it expects ''a recommendation from the disciplinary committee in the coming days, and a decision by the chairman of WADA's executive committee next week.''

The Brazilian sports ministry, which oversees the Rio laboratory, on Wednesday confirmed the inspection. A spokesman said the ministry expected a decision even sooner, but gave no indication of when.

The anti-doping laboratory was suspended last month for ''nonconformity with International Standard for Laboratories.''

The suspension has been an embarrassment for local organizers and a major headache for the International Olympic Committee, which could be forced to send blood and urine samples abroad for testing if the lab remains closed.

The Rio Games face countless other problems: the Zika epidemic, soaring crime and security worries, slow ticket sales and severe water pollution in venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and distance swimming.

In an interview Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said it would be better if the Rio lab were re-accredited, but added there were alternate plans.

''For us, for the IOC, it is clear we will give the samples to a laboratory only that guarantees the scope and integrity of the anti-doping program,'' Bach said.

''If this can be guaranteed by WADA in Rio, then of course we would go to Rio,'' Bach added. ''If not, then we would have to ship the samples to a WADA-accredited lab or labs elsewhere.''

It's not the first time that the Rio lab has been suspended by WADA. It was also suspended in 2012 after a false positive test result.

The closure meant that samples for soccer's 2014 World Cup tournament were sent to Lausanne, Switzerland, for testing.

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Stephen Wilson contributed to this report from London, and Mauricio Savarese contributed from Rio de Janeiro.

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/stephen-wade

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