WADA chief hints at hair testing for presence of drugs

Athletes may soon have their hair tested to see if they are drug cheats, the new World Anti-Doping Agency president has warned.

WADA chief hints at hair testing for presence of drugs

Britain’s Craig Reedie, who takes over the position at WADA today, says a new €7.2m fund set up by the International Olympic Committee should open up new testing techniques to catch cheats.

Until now, tests have relied on blood and urine samples but traces of some drugs last much longer in hair, and that is likely to be part of WADA’s new thrust.

“This new fund from the IOC will create tremendous opportunities for advances in anti-doping and allow our scientists to look at alternative approaches to sample testing for banned substances,” Reedie said.

“We test in the main blood and urine, but now we will look at different approaches, such as can we use a lock of hair? This is a really exciting development and means we can look at approaches that in the past have been unaffordable.”

A Moscow testing laboratory for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics had its WADA accreditation suspended recently, but Reedie, who takes over his role today, confirmed that provisions have been made.

He added: “There will be a very well-staffed and functioning satellite laboratory in Sochi and a group of foreign experts are helping resolve the problems in Moscow.”

Reedie added that it was “regrettable” that there would be no WADA-accredited laboratory to test samples at the football World Cup finals in Brazil next summer — accreditation was removed from the Rio de Janeiro lab — but that it would still be possible to transport them back to Switzerland.

“The logistics are more complicated but it is not impossible,” said Reedie.

“There are 600-700 tests rather than the 6,000 you have at a summer Olympics. They just have to make sure there is a system in place so the samples are flown back to Lausanne immediately.”

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