Berlinger ends production of doping control kits

Berlinger ends production of doping control kits
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Swiss manufacturer Berlinger is halting production of its widely-used doping control kits and withdrawing from the industry after the integrity of its sample bottles was called into question.

Berlinger said "institutionalised forms of doping malpractice have steadily raised and changed the demands" on the kits, confirming glass bottles had been found to have broken when frozen.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) scrapped plans to use Berlinger's latest model of sample bottles at the Winter Games, on the advice of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), instead using the company's previous product.

That followed German broadcaster ARD claiming the new 'BEREG-KIT Geneva' bottles could be opened, without breaking the tamper-proof seal, when frozen, and were also easy to counterfeit.

Berlinger said in February that it believed the issues were being caused by the bottles being closed too firmly, but the company now says it will stop manufacturing its kits "in the medium term", supplying them only for a transitional stage while stocks last as WADA seeks a substitute product. Over 120,000 have been supplied to anti-doping agencies worldwide.

WADA said it was "actively exploring alternative sources of sample collection kits".

The world body has written to authorities including the IOC and International Paralympic Committee to offer guidance to "secure the integrity" of ongoing testing.

It added: "WADA wishes to reassure athletes, anti-doping organisations and other stakeholders that it remains resolutely committed to following up with Berlinger and affected stakeholders as necessary until the matter is resolved and that it will keep stakeholders updated along the way."

Russia's state-sponsored doping programme caused a scandal following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when samples were found to have been switched to avoid positive tests for home athletes.

Professor Richard McLaren's 2016 report for WADA revealed the Russian secret service had worked out how to open the old Berlinger bottles by getting a small implement under the cap and forcing it open from within.

Berlinger chairwoman Andrea Berlinger said the increasing scale of the doping problem led the company to its decision.

"These developments are not only damaging to sport: they have become increasingly incompatible with our corporate values and core competencies," she said.

"And in view of this, we have taken the strategic decision to make an orderly withdrawal from this business segment over the next few months, and to focus on the high-tech core business of Berlinger & Co AG."

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