Local anti-doping authorities insist there is no reason for concern after the nation’s lone globally accredited testing centre was suspended by the World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) on Tuesday.
“Wada has suspended the accreditation of the South African doping control laboratory in Bloemfontein until 30 September,” the international body said in a statement.
The suspension would prohibit the lab from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
However, SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (Saids) chief executive Khalid Galant said the lab, which was the only accredited testing centre in Africa, had closed in March for refurbishing, training and equipment recalibration.
“The lab informed us at least a year ago that it would be closing for a period, so this wasn’t a surprise,” Galant said.
“We anticipated their accreditation would be suspended because they are not doing continuous analysis.”
All anti-doping tests conducted in South Africa had been sent to an accredited lab in Qatar since the Bloem centre temporarily closed its doors.
“We worked out a whole supply chain (using a courier) in anticipation that we would have to use an alternate lab, so there would be no negative effects,” Galant said.
The costs of using the Qatar lab were “very competitive” and the change in facilities had not affected the number of tests conducted on SA athletes.
The Bloem lab, attached to the University of Free State, was one of 35 Wada accredited laboratories around the world.
It would be able to apply for reinstatement later this year, once its doors had reopened.
Three other accredited labs were suspended in the last few weeks, with the testing centres in Lisbon and Beijing temporarily losing their stamp of approval from the anti-doping governing body, along with the lab in Moscow, amidst an explosive drug scandal in Russian athletics.
Once the Bloem lab was reopened, Galant confirmed Saids would revert to using the local facility.