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British agency given pre-Olympic drug testing role

 LONDON, March 15: UK Anti-Doping is to oversee the worldwide effort to stamp out the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the run-up to this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, it was announced.

UKAD has been appointed as the secretariat for an International Olympic Committee anti-doping taskforce which will seek to standardise testing procedures.

The announcement came with Russia still banned by the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body and on course to be excluded from the Olympics following a damning report into mass doping violations.

Meanwhile five other countries have now been placed on notice by the IAAF.

This is the second time this month that UKAD has been granted a role beyond its own borders after it was asked to oversee drug testing procedures in Russia for the time that its own anti-doping agency, RUSADA, remains non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

“UK Anti-Doping is delighted to have been asked by the World Anti-Doping Agency to be the secretariat for the pre-Rio Anti-Doping Taskforce,” said UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead.

“This is an important step forward for global sport and the protection of clean athletes. It is an opportunity for international federations and national anti-doping organisations to collaborate to ensure pre-Games testing programmes are targeted, meaningful and effective.

“It’s the first time something like this has been done. Global co-operation is a vital aspect of protecting clean sport and developing a level playing field for all athletes.”

There was a renewed focus on the use of drugs in sport following Russian tennis star Maria Sharpova’s recent admission that she had taken the banned substance meldonium at this year’s Australian Open.

Meldonium, which is intended to be used in the treatment of ischaemia, or poor blood flow, but which can improve endurance, was added to the WADA list of banned substances on January 1.

WADA said on Friday that 99 athletes have since tested positive for meldonium. – AFP

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