Athletes can compete in 2021 if doping bans expire: WADA chief

WADA. (Photo: Twitter/@wada_ama)

Montreal: World Anti-Doping Agency President Witold Banka said that the athletes who are serving doping bans can participate in the postponed Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics, which were to start in July, have been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus situation.

This means that a number of athletes like Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav, who could not compete in the Games this year due to their doping bans, could be in contention next year.

“A ban is about the length of time, it is not dedicated to concrete sports events and if they happen or not,” Banka told insidethgames.

“When you finish your punishment, you can compete. We cannot extend the punishment, from a legal point of view.

“I agree it could be a concern for athletes and we should do everything we can to increase the controls.”

Banka also warned athletes against using the situation to cheat. “Anti-doping never sleeps, that is my message to the athletes,” said the Polish former 400m relay runner.

“We have the Athlete Biological Passport, long-term analysis, intelligence and investigations and others, which will be key tools in the coming weeks and months.

“This is not space for cheats and I can say to the athletes that we will do everything we can to protect clean athletes during this time.

“Inevitably testing programmes in some countries will be suspended and cancelled or limited in others, but we will do our best to maintain the integrity of the anti-doping system.

“If some cheats are thinking this is space for them, I can ensure we will do everything to catch them and eliminate them from the sports environment.”