Head of Rio lab: Security paramount for Olympic doping tests

Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:51pm EDT
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By Paulo Prada and Pedro Fonseca

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Security is the top focus for the laboratory that will conduct doping exams at the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the lab's director said Friday, amid global scrutiny following the recent scandal surrounding Russian athletes.

Citing major breaches that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) described at a Russian laboratory, chemist Francisco Radler said the lab must ensure that cheating, through infiltration by outsiders or other efforts to manipulate testing, is "impossible."

In an interview with Reuters outside the new laboratory, a remote five-story building on the island campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Radler said a security force of about 50 people, including military police and private guards, will guard the nearly 200 local and international scientists and technicians who will conduct Olympic testing.

He said the laboratory, following a brief suspension because of implementation problems with new equipment, is fully operational and ready for testing once the Games begin on Aug. 5.

Given the hardware and know-how that will be on hand for the Olympics, after an investment of about 190 million reais ($58.6 million) by Brazil's federal government, Radler says the lab's goal is not just to show technical proficiency but to prove that it can safeguard the integrity of testing.

"Concerns with security, with access to samples, with the people who come in and out of this complex, are infinitely greater," he said.

So stringent is security that Radler spoke with Reuters outside a metal fence delineating a perimeter more than 100 meters from the building itself. Two hundred cameras monitor the lab and guards early Friday inspected even the trunks of employee cars as they pulled through a checkpoint.

In Russia, following revelations by a whistleblower from the country's own track and field team, investigators learned of security flaws that included even a small hole in a lab wall through which staff secretly took test samples and swapped them with clean substitutes.   Continued...

Francisco Radler, director of the Brazilian Laboratory for Doping Control, talks during an interview with Reuters outside the Brazilian Laboratory of Doping Control in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce