The coronavirus pandemic is restricting the fight against anti-doping, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said while issuing new guidelines to continue testing of athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Since starting in China late in 2019, the flu-like disease has infected over 270 000 people and killed more than 11 000 across the world, bringing global sport to a virtual standstill.
The Tokyo Olympics are due to run from July 24-August 9, but organizers are under pressure to cancel or postpone them due to the coronavirus.
With most countries going into lockdown and closing borders to contain the spread of the virus, WADA said the anti-doping system was facing challenges.
“The sports world is dealing with an unprecedented situation. COVID-19 has forced all anti-doping stakeholders, including WADA, to adjust the way daily operations are conducted,” WADA President Witold Banka said.
“But this matter goes way beyond anti-doping and sport – it is a global emergency – and our first priority must be public health, safety and social responsibility.”
WADA said it will continue to provide guidance to the Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs), who must adhere to restrictions placed by local health authorities and governments.
“It will also be crucial that the system can return to full power as quickly as possible once the various restrictions are lifted,” Banka said.
“During this time, I would like to acknowledge how difficult it is for athletes, too, who face disruptions to their training programs and uncertainty as to what the future holds for their competitions.”