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Doping: Testing gap due to coronavirus a 'gift' to cheats: race walker Bosworth

(Reuters) - Reduced drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic is like a “gift” for those unscrupulous athletes who will go to any lengths to win and make money, British race walker Tom Bosworth has told The Times newspaper.

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - British Athletics Indoor Championships - Emirates Arena, Glasgow, United Kingdom - February 23, 2020 Tom Bosworth celebrates winning the Men's 5000 Metres Walk REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said last month that the pandemic had created challenges for drug testers with countries closing borders, cancelling flights and enforcing quarantines, and with the shutdown of the sporting calendar.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed by a year, Bosworth said some athletes could look to improve their medal chances by taking performance-enhancing drugs during the lockdown.

"It is such a blatantly obvious advantage - to those who see sport just as a way of winning at all costs and making money, this is a gift," Bosworth, who won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, told here the newspaper.

“It’s a really bleak outlook, you can get huge gains in a two to three month period where you know you will not be tested.”

Despite the challenges faced by authorities, WADA chief Witold Banka said last month that any athlete who attempted to take advantage of the gap in testing would be caught and eliminated from sport. [nL8N2BK7Q2]

Bosworth said the current situation presented the anti-doping body with the chance to plan an overhaul of their testing system and implement changes after the crisis subsides.

“There’s an opportunity after this to make some drastic changes, because testing is so inconsistent across the world,” Bosworth added.

“Some of my peers and colleagues can be tested once or twice a week, others one or twice a year.

“Each country gets a different amount of money put into testing and that’s not good enough.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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