The World Anti-Doping Agency has launched an investigation over the sample bottles ©WADA

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has launched an investigation after learning that newly-introduced sample bottles are susceptible to being opened manually.

New-generation BEREG-KIT Geneva security bottles made by Berlinger could potentially be opened if a sample is frozen, the organisation said.

German journalist Hajo Seppelt said a documentary on ARD today would prove that "sample bottles for Winter Olympic Games are manipulable". 

It comes with the fall-out from the Russian doping scheme at their home Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics still continuing.

A covert operation to replace tainted samples with clean ones was supposedly in operation at the Games.

Russia are being forced to compete neutrally at next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after being sanctioned due to the scandal, with numerous athletes stripped of medals and banned.

The news on the bottles is bound to cause concern with the Games in South Korea opening on February 9.

"The ARD doping editorial team was able to open sealed containers without trace," said Seppelt on Twitter.

WADA said they were alerted about the issue on January 19, with the new bottles only introduced in September last year in response to the Sochi scandal.

"WADA was informed by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne, Germany, that security bottles of the new generation 'BEREG-KIT Geneva', introduced in September 2017 by Swiss manufacturer Berlinger Special AG (Berlinger), may potentially be susceptible to manual opening 'upon freezing' of a sample," the organisation said.

"When an athlete is selected for doping control, they provide a urine and/or blood sample. 

"The sample is then divided into two A and B security bottles; and, both bottles are securely sealed by the athlete and then checked by the doping control officer before being transported to a WADA-accredited laboratory for analysis and further storage. 

"Generally, the B-sample is frozen and only analyzed if the A-sample has been found to contain a prohibited substance. 

"Athletes have the opportunity to be present at the re-analysis of a B-sample.

"Upon being informed of the potential integrity issue by the Cologne laboratory, WADA immediately reached out to the laboratory and Berlinger to ascertain the facts; and, to ensure that immediate action was being taken by Berlinger to robustly test and verify the BEREG-KIT Geneva to ensure its integrity."

WADA said that on January 27, Berlinger had advised them that they could not replicate the issue when carrying out tests.

Discussions will now take place between WADA, Berlinger and Cologne Laboratory to "further clarify" the testing protocols that have been undertaken to date.

"WADA acknowledges that this situation, if confirmed, will raise concerns and questions," WADA added. 

"We wish to reassure athletes and other stakeholders that WADA is resolutely committed to following up with Berlinger until the matter is resolved; and that, we will keep stakeholders apprised as the situation evolves." 

insidethegames has contacted Berlinger for a comment.