Record anti-doping test in Tokyo Olympics: WADA head

“We are not able to completely eliminate doping, but in Tokyo we will have the most tests in the history of the Olympics,” the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Witold Bańka said in an interview with Polish newspaper “Rzeczpospolita.” He was asked if there is a chance that the upcoming Olympic Games will be clean.

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“As the WADA, we are the regulator and supervisor. We will have observers on site who will look at the control process carried out by the International Anti-Doping Research Agency (ITA),” he indicated.

When Witold Bańka was asked if he was afraid that some athletes might have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, he replied that “nobody becomes a doping user overnight”.

“It is not a question of taking advantage of an opportunity. It is a process. Besides, These days the fight against doping is not only about control, but also about a biological passport, long-term storage, the re-analysis of samples and investigations. Even with all these tools, the system will not detect every fraud, just like the police are not able to catch all thieves. However, I believe that the anti-doping system has made tremendous progress in recent years. Every day we hear about individuals being caught while using illegal support or evading control. This is happening,” the head of the WADA added.

When asked about some well known athletes barred from participating in the Olympics, Mr Bańka replied that “Our experts issued 26,000 test recommendations in 33 disciplines, while five years ago, before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, there were only 1,500 of them. This is a huge change that could also lead to more athletes getting caught while evading control”.

The World Anti-Doping Agency was established in 1999, as an independent agency founded by sport movements and governments around the world. Its mission is to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport. Witold Bańka, a former Polish athlete, who has been the head of WADA since 2020.

The postponed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, will be officially inaugurated on Friday. However, some competitions such as softball have already started.