Saturday, 27 March 2010

CW Games: WADA closely monitoring progress in Delhi

It was one step for the World Anti-Doping Agency to accredit the Delhi laboratory for service in September 2008 but readying it for October's Commonwealth Games is more ambitious.

Complicating the issue for WADA is that responsibility is now essentially out of its hands, although it is keeping a close eye on things as India trains doping control officers (DCOs).

The lab has worked successfully through several curtain-raisers, including the Commonwealth Shooting Championship, the Hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth Boxing Championships.

New Zealander David Howman, WADA's director-general, is off to Delhi in May to further monitor the situation. WADA's interest will extend past October.

"I have no problem with the lab. It has been meeting regular testing programmes from the samples sent back to us. If there was a slip in scientific standards, we'd be on to it like a robber's dog.

"The issue is for the lab to retain its accreditation beyond the Games as one of only 35 labs in the world capable of doing WADA quality testing.

They have to analyse 3000 samples a year to do that. One starting point is cricket's Indian Premier League."

Howman says WADA still feels obliged to guide India in running a full-time programme.

"The Commonwealth Games Federation [CGF] is training its own DCOs but the ideal is that they use Indians. Those people then need to be kept on after the Games."

Drug Free Sport New Zealand boss Graeme Steel can see value in providing overseas expertise, given the number of qualified DCOs in the Commonwealth.

"India has been slow setting up domestic programmes and has had problems with drugs, especially in power events. I shouldn't be too critical from a distance but, at a major Games, it's vital experienced and well-trained officials are on the job, much like bringing in top-match officials or referees."

WADA is extra conscious of policing a new test for human growth hormone (HGH) which should be operational later in the year.

Cheating athletes tend to use HGH during intense out-of-competition periods and the current testing model can only pick up synthetic HGH within 48 hours of it being taken.

When synthetic HGH is ingested, the body shuts down normal production of HGH so artificial material can be detected briefly.


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