Reduced testing during COVID is not the end of doping fight, says WADA

SHOWS:

MONTREAL, CANADA (NOVEMBER 12, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WADA DIRECTOR GENERAL, OLIVIER NIGGLI, ON IF THERE ARE CONCERNS THAT DOPERS MIGHT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LESS TESTING DURING COVID, SAYING:

"Well listen, we, as we've said along the whole COVID, since it started, testing is not the only means that anti-doping has at its disposal and there are other things like passports or investigation. So, the fact that testing has reduced in itself is not, you know, the end of the fight against doping or, you know, means automatically that people are cheating. As we said also, you don't become a cheater overnight, I mean there's a mental process and a decision that you need to be taking. So, it's because you are stuck in your living room and suddenly you're going to start taking something and in particular the effect of doping while you can't train is not great. So, I think we have to put that into perspective. This being said, yes, I mean there is a concern and we need to be alerted to the fact that, you know, potentially there are some possible holes at the moment given the situation and that's what I was saying earlier, that one of our tasks is to work with our partners to identify these holes in particular in advance of a major competition - that will be the Olympic Games next year. So, we're going to be monitoring with federation and others to make sure that, you know, those who need to be tested are tested. But I think, that's, we need to be alerted to that but it's, I don't think we should overplay the situation."

TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - AUGUST 31, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

2. VARIOUS OF OLYMPIC RINGS WITH NATIONAL STADIUM IN BACKGROUND

TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - DECEMBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

3. INTERIOR OF NATIONAL STADIUM

MONTREAL, CANADA (NOVEMBER 12, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

4. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WADA DIRECTOR GENERAL, OLIVIER NIGGLI, ON IF JAPAN ARE CONCERNED BY LACK OF DOPING TESTING DUE TO COVID AHEAD OF NEXT YEAR'S TOKYO OLYMPICS, SAYING:

"I think the Japanese request is that we continue working proactively, we continue to provide guidance to anti-doping organisations, in order to ensure as much as possible, there's obviously conditions in country by country that the testing takes place. But certainly, the Japanese side is concerned and wants to make sure that everything is done to ensure proper testing before the Games."

KATOWICE, POLAND (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

5. WADA PRESIDENT WITOLD BANKA AND VICE PRESIDENT YANG YANG POSING FOR PHOTOS

MONTREAL, CANADA (NOVEMBER 12, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

6. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WADA PRESIDENT, WITOLD BANKA, ON RUSSIAN DOPING SAGA SAYING:

"I think that the decision which was taken by WADA last year was the right decision and as the president I need to say very clearly that I will do everything to maintain the level playing field for the athletes. I will do everything to eradicate the doping and I will do everything to strengthen anti-doping system and I think with strong and good collaboration with the governments, with good collaboration with the sport we can achieve this goal. We can make WADA more robust and stronger."

DOHA, QATAR (FILE - OCTOBER 5, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES) (MUTE)

7. STILL PHOTO SHOWING CHRISTIAN COLEMAN, WHO WAS RECENTLY BANNED FOR TWO YEARS FOR BREACHING WHEREABOUTS RULES, AHEAD OF THE MEN'S 4X100-METRE FINAL AT THE 2019 WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

DOHA, QATAR (FILE - SEPTEMBER 28, 2019) (REUTERS PICTURES) (MUTE)

8. STILL PHOTO SHOWING COLEMAN CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING THE MEN'S 100-METRE FINAL AT THE 2019 WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

9. STILL PHOTO SHOWING COLEMAN HOLDING A U.S. FLAG WHILE POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS

MONTREAL, CANADA (NOVEMBER 12, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

10. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WADA PRESIDENT, WITOLD BANKA, ON THE WHEREABOUT RULE, SAYING:

"The rules are rules and I think it's one of the important issues ahead of athletes to fulfil this rule, to respect it and I think that this is very important for them and there is no room for cheats. If someone is breaking the rules, he or she needs to take the consequences."

STORY: World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Director General, Olivier Niggli said that less dope testing during the coronavirus pandemic does not mean the end of the fight against cheaters in sports.

Speaking after a Foundation Board meeting in a virtual news conference on Thursday (November 12), Niggli downplayed concerns that dopers may be taking advantage of less testing.

"The fact that testing has reduced in itself is not the end of the fight against doping or means automatically that people are cheating", said Niggli

"There is a concern and we need to be alerted to the fact that potentially there are some possible holes at the moment given the situation… I don't think we should overplay the situation.", he added.

Meanwhile, WADA President, Witod Banka, who took over the reigns a little over a year ago, affirmed his pledge to keep sports clean during a years-long battle with Russia.

"I think that the decision (to deem the Russian Anti-doping Agency non-compliant) which was taken by WADA last year was the right decision and as the president I need to say very clearly that I will do everything to maintain the level playing field for the athletes."

On the whereabouts rule, which recently saw world 100 metres champion Christian Coleman banned for two years, Banka said he would always play by the book.

"The rules are rules… and I think that this is very important for them (athletes) and there is no room for cheats. If someone is breaking the rules, he or she needs to take the consequences."

(Production: Stefan Haskins)

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