The executive director of Brazil’s primary drug testing facility reported this week that Brazil will have difficulty meeting the drug-testing demands for the 2014 World Cup games scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro in June. The primary drug-testing lab in the country lost its accreditation last month and is not expected to be able to get accreditation reinstated in time for the most important soccer games in the world, scheduled to take place in their city next year.
Brazil does have another drug-testing lab being built, which will be completed and accredited in time for the 2016 Olympics, but authorities had planned on relying on the existing lab until that time. Brazilian authorities are indicating that the problem is “the building,” stating that the new building will be complete in April or May, but that they won’t have time to move the equipment and personnel into place in time. The accrediting organization, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has reported that Brazil’s lab failed multiple blind tests, failing to identify tainted and adulterated samples. This hardly seems a likely result of problems with “the building.”
Brazil’s problems come at a time when leaders in the sport are calling for more extensive and frequent athlete testing. Although soccer has not had any significant doping scandals, as American football and baseball have had, they are pushing for “preventative” testing, to identify and head off any potential problems before they become public scandals.
The solution to Brazil’s immediate problem- how to handle testing for the 2014 World Cup- appears to be the enlistment of labs outside of the country to help. Brazil is suggesting that accredited labs from other countries set up temporary branches in Brazil to oversee the testing for the World Cup. Under this proposal, Brazil’s equipment and facilities would still be used for testing, but the process would be overseen by WADA-accredited labs in other countries. It would seem, however, that using Brazilian equipment and facilities would present the same accreditation problems that started the difficulty. Outside labs would probably need to bring in their own collection facilities and equipment and send samples to labs in their own country for evaluation.