Embarrassment for Qatar as WADA suspends Doha drug-testing centre

Embarrassment for Qatar as WADA suspends Doha drug-testing centre

The World Anti-Doping Agency has suspended the accreditation of the laboratory in the Qatari capital of Doha from doing any testing for four months.

Known as Antidoping Lab Qatar, the drug-testing centre becomes the seventh of WADA's 34 accredited laboratories to lose its status this year.

Two of those, the laboratories in Beijing and Rio, have since regained their accreditation but Doha now joins Almaty, Bloemfontein, Lisbon and Madrid on the sidelines of the anti-doping system.

A WADA press release said the suspension started on November 7 and explained that all untested samples held by the laboratory will now be transported to other accredited centres.

"The decision to suspend the laboratory is a direct result of the more stringent quality assessment procedures enacted by WADA to ensure laboratories maintain the highest standards," WADA added.

If it fails to fix the problems identified by WADA in the next four months it could have its ban extended by a further six months, although it does have 21 days from receipt of its suspension notice to appeal against the sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Doha's demotion, which is for undisclosed "non-conformities" found by WADA's laboratory expert group, could not come at a more embarrassing time for Qatar as it is hosting the Association of National Olympic Committees general assembly.

The two-day gathering of the world's 205 national Olympic committees officially starts on Tuesday but the majority of the expected 1,200 delegates are already in Qatar. Chief among them is International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who told reporters on Monday that he could one day "imagine" Doha as a candidate city for the Summer Olympics.

Embarrassment for Qatar as WADA suspends Doha drug-testing centre

The city lodged bids for the 2016 and 2020 Games but failed to make the short list on both occasions because of damning evaluation assessments of its suitability to stage the world's largest multi-sport event.

But Qatar's wealthy rulers are nothing if not determined, so recent years have seen the tiny Arabian country host world championships in boxing, cycling, handball and para-athletics, with athletics' world championships to come in 2019 and then the big prize of football's World Cup in 2022.

Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris are the three cities vying for the right to the 2024 Olympics but Doha is widely expected to throw its hat in the ring again for 2028.

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