WADA are planning to revise the International Standard for Testing and Investigations ©WADA

The International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI), a key element in the drive to ensure that the war against doping is waged efficiently and effectively, is to undergo a revision, in a process set to get under way in June.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wants to speed up the enhancement of criteria relating to sample collection equipment currently included in the ISTI.

It plans to assemble a working group to assist with the process.

This stakeholder consultation will be in parallel with the ongoing review of the World Anti-Doping Code, which is scheduled to culminate in November 2019 at the Fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport.

This focus on sample collection equipment appears to be a consequence of recent developments relating to Berlinger, the dominant supplier.

Disclosure of the coming revision came as part of a new WADA update primarily on the Berlinger situation, dated April 24.

This confirmed that “having previously announced its decision to halt production of its human doping control urine kits and its intention to withdraw from the market”, Berlinger had now decided to continue making the kits “for at least the next 12 months”.

Moreover, “following independent testing on the freezing of the glass bottles used by Berlinger in manufacturing its kits, there was found to be no issues with the glass cracking”.

A process is underway to select a replacement for Berlinger ©Getty Images
A process is underway to select a replacement for Berlinger ©Getty Images

Berlinger had been informed in February that breakages had been experienced with the security bottles included in the kits used at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, following the freezing of the anti-doping samples concerned.

The company subsequently commissioned tests conducted by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) in Zurich.

It said this month that these showed that the bottles “display no proneness to breakage beyond the normal tolerances as a result of the freezing process” and that urine samples “can also be stored in a standing position with no increased risk of bottle glass breakage”.

In its update, WADA also reveals that a “WADA-initiated survey” had “revealed no issues with any bottles cracking” and that to date it has received “no reports of cracked Berlinger bottles following freezing” from any accredited laboratory, anti-doping organisation (ADO) or sample collection provider.

On this basis, the agency is recommending that laboratories “revert to storing all Berlinger bottles upright when freezing”, while urging them to remain vigilant.

It continues to explore alternative sources of sample collection kits, while emphasising that it is “up to each ADO to decide which sample collection equipment to use”, provided it meets requirements set out in the ISTI.