String of failures drove Rio Olympics drug-testing to ‘brink of collapse’

Drug-testing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics came to the brink of collapse with a string of serious failings, a damning World Anti-Doping Agency report says. The failures led to samples being mislabelled, others going missing and athletes under suspicion not being traced for testing, the 55-page document said. On some days only half of the out-of-competition samples could be collected in the athletes village, it alleged. The system was only saved from collapsing by the “enormous resourcefulness and goodwill” of some key staff, said the report, compiled by an independent observer team led by British lawyer Jonathan Taylor.

Ultimately, many athletes targeted for testing in the athletes village simply could not be found and the mission had to be aborted.

WADA report

Doping was heavily in the spotlight in the months leading up to the Rio Games, with allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia. But the report said the sample collection process in the village was so strained that it came “close to breaking point”. No out-of-competition testing was conducted in soccer and “little or no in-competition blood testing” in some high risk-sports, including weightlifting, the report noted as it praised the efforts of testing staff. “Due to their initiative, tenacity and professionalism in the face of great difficulties, the many problems identified above were patched over and sample collection was conducted in a manner that ensured the identity and integrity of the samples,” it added.

The integrity of the program was ensured despite some challenges the organizing committee had to overcome. … such as a lack of resources and trained volunteers and staff

Richard Budgett, the International Olympic Committee’s medical director