The period leading up to an Olympic Games is a critical time for anti-doping programs and the protection of participating athletes. To address this issue, the ITA is not only leading the most extensive pre-Games testing program ever implemented for an edition of the Winter Olympics but has also set up a large-scale pre-Games sample Long-Term Storage (LTS) program. This program, set up with a dedicated IOC fund and with the support of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), offers anti-doping organisations fully developed logistics and infrastructure to store their samples at no further cost whilst retaining their authority over them. To this purpose, the ITA has established a highly secured Centralised Long-Term Storage Facility (CLTSF) ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which is already hosting the pre-Games and Games-time samples of the Summer Olympics.
The ITA, together with the IOC and WADA, now encourage all Winter Olympic International Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) to store samples collected during the time leading up to Beijing 2022 in the CLTSF with the support of the ITA, who will coordinate their shipment, referencing and storage in accordance with the International Standard for Laboratories.
The selection of samples for storage will be based on a risk assessment carried out by each organisation. The storage of samples and logistics will not incur any additional costs for the participating IFs and NADOs. Organisations storing their samples in ITA’s facility retain ownership and authority over them and can request re-analysis at any time – in that case, the ITA would arrange the transfer of the sample to a designated WADA-accredited laboratory. For this initiative to be a success, close cooperation between the ITA and all WADA-accredited laboratories involved is essential.
Long-term storage (LTS) of samples has emerged as one of the most impactful strategies to protect athletes and deter doping over the past decade. Today, under the World Anti-Doping Code, samples can be stored for up to 10 years after their initial analysis and still retain the same legal impact if re-tested and prosecuted. This allows them to be re-analysed for previously undetected substances, should scientific breakthroughs enable new technologies and analysis methods.
Next to enabling the systematic storage of samples collected before and during the Olympic Games, the ITA also proposes the development of LTS policies, sample storage in the CLTSF and the management of re-analysis programs to all Anti-Doping Organisations in order to help them reinforce their efforts to protect athletes and catch cheats.
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