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SA lab cleared to test blood doping samples

The University of Free State’s Bloemfontein doping control laboratory has been cleared to start testing blood samples again – a move warmly welcomed by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS).

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has informed the laboratory that it is now authorised to conduct doping control analyses of blood samples. “This is good news,” said SAIDS chief executive officer Khalid Galant. “WADA holds its laboratories to the highest standards and there are obvious benefits to having the testing done in our own country.”

In March this year SAIDS began sending urine samples to Doha while the South African Doping Control Laboratory at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein temporarily shut down part of its operation. The laboratory took the step to give it an opportunity to upgrade equipment and improve staff capacity and training. In May WADA suspended the accreditation of the laboratory, prohibiting it from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.

WADA said in a statement at the time that: “During the period of suspension, the laboratory shall address all non-conformities identified in its External Quality Assessment Scheme (EQAS) programme and any other non-conformities identified in the course of WADA site visits during the suspension period.”

All blood and urine samples taken by SAIDS were sent go to Doha.

However, on August 8 the laboratory was informed that the laboratory now fulfilled the WADA requirements for blood testing.

“This is a big step in the right direction and we are confident the laboratory will soon also be accredited to again test urine samples,” said Galant.

The Bloemfontein laboratory operates independently of SAIDS and reports to the University of Free State.