WADA probes Russian doping lab

JOHANNESBURG -- The World Anti-Doping Agency is investigating problems with the drug-testing laboratory in Russia, less than three months before the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The agency has set up a disciplinary committee to look into the WADA-accredited Moscow lab, WADA President John Fahey told The Associated Press on Thursday.

"There is a matter that is being looked at at the present time with respect of the Russian laboratory," said Fahey, declining to give details on the exact nature of the issues.

IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said the Olympic body expects to hear the findings of the investigation in the coming days. Ljungqvist is also a WADA vice president.

"We are all aware of the problems, otherwise the disciplinary procedure would not take place. That's it," said Ljungqvist, declining further comment.

WADA regularly checks that its accredited labs are working properly by sending them "blind samples," samples meant as tests to ensure the lab is giving correct findings and not false positives or false negatives.

Labs deemed non-compliant with WADA's standards can have their accreditation revoked -- as has happened with the Rio de Janeiro lab that had been scheduled to test samples at next year's World Cup in Brazil. FIFA will have to fly World Cup samples to the lab in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Moscow lab handled drug tests for the world track and field championships in August and is due to transfer facilities to Sochi to handle the tests for the Sochi Games, which run from Feb. 7-23. The temporary Sochi facility, known as a "satellite" lab, would work under Moscow's accreditation.

Should the Moscow lab have its accreditation revoked for the Olympics, the facility in Sochi would likely not work. The cost of transferring samples to another lab likely would be borne by local organizers under the host city agreement.

However, Fahey moved to ease fears that the problems would erode the effectiveness of the IOC's testing program and its ability to catch cheats in Sochi.

"Look, I am very confident that irrespective of what is in that report, there will be a very effective anti-doping program associated with the winter Olympics in Sochi next year," Fahey said. "I have no doubt that will occur."

Sochi will be the most drug-tested games in Winter Olympics history. New IOC President Thomas Bach told the World Conference on Doping in Sport this week there would be a total of 2,453 tests before and during the games, including 1,269 pre-competition tests.

The IOC will spend $1 million on pre-competition testing for Sochi and "many millions" on testing throughout the event, Bach said.

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Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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