The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says that the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) will resume testing this week after a self-imposed 3 week suspension that started on February 3rd. The suspension came amidst the Chinese outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19.
There are over 75,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in China, with a death tole surpassing 2,200. The outbreak has led to both national and global quarantines as governments around the world try to stop the spread of the deadly virus that is related to SARS and MERS.
CHINADA halted all testing activity earlier this month, but told WADA that it would resume testing activity this week, phasing in testing activity, beginning with priority to elite level athletes from higher-risk categories and sports.
“The safety of athletes and sample collection personnel involved in the doping control process within China is the key priority,” WADA said in a press release. “This needs to be balanced with the importance of ensuring that Chinese athletes remain subject to a rigorous testing program for the duration of the coronavirus situation.”
While testing in mainland China was suspended, CHINADA continued to conduct testing on Chinese athletes training and competing outside of China. After conducting almost 1,400 tests in January, WADA says that CHINADA will doncut 165 urine and 113 blood samples in February from athletes in 7 countries and 9 Olympic sports. CHINADA also says that they are willing to accept missions from other Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) that have the right to collect samples from Chinese athletes in China.
WADA has also requested that international federations and National Anti-Doping Organizations ramp up testing of Chinese athletes outside of China. A number of travel bans has made it difficult for Chinese athletes or anti-doping officials to travel to-or-from China.
China’s most accomplished swimmer, and most controversial, Sun Yang has returned to his home city of Hangzhou to train during the outbreak. Sun is awaiting the result of a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing to determine whether Sun violated anti-doping rules in a September 2018 incident where a bodyguard smashed a vial of his blood that had been collected to analyze for banned substances.
While the influenza virus kills many more people globally each year, the coronavirus has a much higher mortality rate of almost 3%.
On Friday, Italy ordered mass closures of schools, public buildings, restaurants, and coffee shops in 10 buildings in the north of the country after a cluster of 14 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed.