UKAD will serve as the secretariat of the anti-doping body ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to lead an anti-doping taskforce in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympics in August.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) will serve as the secretariat of the body, which will aim to ensure a co-ordinated effort between all countries ahead of the Games in Brazil.

A primary objective is to identify potential testing gaps around the world in all Olympic sports, with the taskforce due to work with all relevant National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs).

The news comes at a time when doping scandals are embroiling sport, including Russia's suspension by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and a spate of drug test failures for newly banned heart attack drug meldonium.

UKAD's appointment has been announced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which will manage the taskforce under the IOC's leadership.

"This is an important step forward for global sport and the protection of clean athletes," said UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead.  

Nicole Sapstead said the taskforce was an important step forward
Nicole Sapstead said the taskforce was an important step forward ©Getty Images

"It is an opportunity for International Federations and National Anti-Doping Organisations to collaborate to ensure pre-Games testing programmes are targeted, meaningful and effective.

“It's the first time something like this has been done.

"Global cooperation is a vital aspect of protecting clean sport and developing a level playing field for all athletes.”

Anti-doping organisations in Denmark, Japan, Australia and South Africa will also be involved with the operational activities of the taskforce.

Among the tasks will be sharing regional intelligence and the identification of "high risk" athletes.

A "transfer of knowledge" will be provided to the IOC before the Olympics begin in Rio, to allow the organisation to shape its drug strategy during the Games.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that independent adjudicators selected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will assume control from the IOC of all anti-doping decisions in Rio, including handing out sanctions.

This followed a proposal at last year's Olympic Summit in Lausanne for drug testing to be made independent of sporting bodies.

Recommendations by the taskforce will be made to International Federations and NADOs where necessary, with the IOC and WADA kept informed throughout.

Russia's IAAF ban came after two reports by the WADA Independent Commission revealed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping in the country.

If the ban is not lifted then Russia's athletes will not be able to compete in Rio, with UKAD currently working with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as they bid to return to the fold.

Meldonium, which was only added to the WADA banned list on January 1, has provided another headache for Russian officials with tennis ace Maria Sharapova the most high-profile of their athletes to have failed so far.

There have been 99 failures since it was outlawed, with WADA claiming evidence of athletes using it for enhancing performance.