Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES), the governing body for all doping control in Canada, has announced a hold on all doping testing until further notice. This announcement comes on the tail of the International Olympic Committee making the decision that the 2020 Olympic Games would be postponed until next year. While the CCES is currently suspending its testing, athletes are still subject to the Canadian Anti-Doping Program, requiring all registered athletes to continue filing their location in the whereabouts system, ADAMS.
“Athletes should know that most other countries around the world are also adjusting their anti-doping programs in accordance with their national responses to deal with COVID-19. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is actively monitoring these adjustments. The CCES will continue to update WADA on the adjustments we are taking in Canada.”
Canada is not the first country to make changes to their doping program. Earlier this month UK Anti-Doping announced a significant decrease in testing to minimize potential exposure to the virus.
While countries doping agencies have reduced or entirely stopped testing, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has stated that they will continue testing in spite of the current outbreak.WADA has stated that, unless an athlete is under mandatory lockdown, they are still subject to regular testing procedures. Per WADA;
“If you refuse to be tested or if you do not complete the sample collection process after notification, or if you are not able (or willing) to provide a sample due to a lack of protective measures, your refusal will follow the normal results management process which affords you due process and the opportunity to justify your action. Keeping in mind that little testing is taking place, where appropriate, athletes are encouraged to comply with testing. If you rely on the assistance of a representative to assist with the doping control process (especially for minors or athletes with an impairment), and a representative is unavailable due to the impact of COVID-19, this too should be taken into account in the results management process.”
Other organizations, like FINA or WADA, with anti-doping authority in Canada can still conduct tests there.
Canada has reported at least 4,749 cases of coronavirus with 54 deaths. With a population of almost 38 million, that’s a relatively-low rate of infection compared with much of the world.
Canada has only had a few positive doping tests in its national swimming programs in the last decade. Alec Page received a 1-month suspension in 2014 after testing positive for a masking agent, while William Brothers received a 4-year suspension for evading a doping control test, which was later reduced to 2 years.