WADA chief vows to fight doping despite pandemic

Witold Bańka, the former 400 meters sprinter, former Polish Minister of Sport and current Head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has warned to doping could be on the rise as the numbers of tests carried out by WADA has dramatically decreased in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to reporters about the impact that coronavirus has had on WADA, Mr Bańka admitted that testing has been severely limited or even completely frozen in many countries due to the pandemic.

However, the cheaters shouldn’t rejoice too soon.

In response, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has proposed a solution whereby athletes would perform tests on themselves at home in front of a camera.

Mr Bańka pointed out that with the advances in the field of video editing, such a method is unlikely to be very efficient.

The Head of Wada did however note that the agency has access to other methods of detecting doping which do not involve physical testing, saying “nowadays, testing is not enough. We have a biological passport, we have a long-term analysis model, investigations and various innovations. Besides, many countries have declared that they will soon resume testing. I believe that we will return to full testing in the perspective of a few weeks.

Mr Bańka also pointed out that the organization is working on new ways of detecting cases of doping, among them is the so-called dry blood method, sampling blood with the use of new types of equipment. The new method will make it possible to performs more tests, a simplified procedure and higher efficiency.

The Head of Wada stated that the first pilot studies could be carried out in 2021, and that the new test could become the norm well before the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Having high hopes of the new method, Mr Bańka stated “this is good news for clean athletes, while its bad news for fraudsters.