Canada temporarily halts doping testing

World Anti-Doping Agency president Witold Banka has warned that all drug cheats will be caught.
World Anti-Doping Agency president Witold Banka has warned that all drug cheats will be caught.

Canada have put their doping control testing program on hold until further notice in response to government directives intended to minimise the risk of exposure and spread of the coronavirus, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport says.

Athletes will continue to be required to file and maintain their whereabouts information and remain subject to the Canadian Anti-Doping Program, CCES, which is responsible for maintaining the Canadian program, said in a statement.

Russia's anti-doping agency also is temporarily halting testing in response to government measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, it said on Saturday.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency has warned athletes that even without the testing they will be caught.

"If you are a cheat we will catch you, for sure we... will ...catch you," WADA president Witold Banka told Reuters in a phone interview on Friday.

In the absence of testing, WADA will have to rely on other weapons in its anti-doping arsenal including the athlete biological passport, long-term analysis and investigations, he noted.

"Anti-doping never sleeps, that is the message I would like to give to my fellow athletes," Banka said.

United States Anti-Doping Agency chief warned last week that the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics could open the door for convicted drug cheats to compete for medals, an issue that will need to addressed.

WADA said it would implement an updated Code in January 2021 but told Reuters that even under new rules there are no provisions to prevent a banned athlete from participating at the Tokyo Games next year if they have completed their suspension.

While testing is down, WADA has made no cuts and is not planning any layoffs, said Banka, adding: "Our financial situation, taking into account current situations, is very stable".

Australian Associated Press