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USADA trials self-administered doping tests

National anti-doping agency investigating 'at-home' blood and urine testing procedures with live online monitoring by control officers.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is finding ways to adapt in a world overcome by coronavirus. In a bid to continue its battle against doping and protect clean athletes, the agency is trialing ‘at-home’ doping tests to counter fears of reduced monitoring in the age of social distancing and self-isolation.

USADA has trialed a pilot program whereby participants were required to conduct blood and urine tests while under live supervision from a doping control officer on FaceTime or Zoom.

Athletes were given a one-hour window to complete the test with kits sent to them via mail. USADA CEO Travis Tygart explained to the BBC that participants were not required to actually film themselves providing samples. However, they were required to show their restrooms and were timed when providing the sample, with temperature monitors able to ensure that urine was of a proper body temperature.

“We’re going to push the program and reinvent ourselves during this crisis, but hopefully get some long term winnings and understandings from this project that ultimately may have a really good impact on the future of antidoping around the world,” Tygart told Reuters, Friday.

Multiple Olympic gold swimmer Katie Ledecky and 200-metre world champion Noah Lyles are among those that have participated.

While USADA went through a short period of reduced or no testing when the coronavirus crisis struck and led to the shutdown of services globally, Tygart is hopeful that the at-home testing would prevent anyone from falling through the gaps.

“Hopefully when we get restarted from a testing standpoint that we can catch up and we’ll have an indication if anyone has tried to take advantage of this,” Tygart said.

“No one should think they have a free pass during this time period but we also need to be realistic that significant reduction in testing and in some places the shut off in testing has created a serious concern.”