WADA has vowed to plug gaps in testing caused by the pandemic ©Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has vowed to conduct additional targeted testing to plug gaps in the system caused by the coronavirus crisis.

In an updated question and answer document for athletes, WADA conceded the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to reduced confidence in the anti-doping process and was "monitoring closely where levels of testing have been reduced altogether".

Concerns have been raised that athletes might look to exploit the lack of testing being carried out amid the pandemic, but WADA has insisted it has other weapons in its armoury to catch cheats.

Testing had ground to a near complete halt owing to the global health crisis.

"WADA is monitoring closely where levels of testing have been reduced altogether and is in close communication with ADOs to work together to find the best ways to be effective during this period," WADA said in the document.

Testing has begun to resume in some countries after being halted in response to the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images
Testing has begun to resume in some countries after being halted in response to the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

"When the sporting landscape returns to a certain normality, these 'gaps' in testing will be addressed cooperatively through additional targeted testing especially given that intelligence-gathering and investigations continue.

"Placing public health above the needs of the anti-doping system means that there may be impacts on the fight against doping in sport. 

"However, there is significantly less training being carried out and significantly fewer competitions taking place."

Certain countries are beginning to emerge from restrictions and lockdowns imposed by Governments in response to the crisis, which has allowed some testing to resume.

WADA has advised anti-doping organisations where such measures remain in place to "test only in the most appropriate scenarios".

"In those countries and regions where confinement measures begin to be lifted, athletes may expect testing to increase in concert with these measures," WADA added.

The global watchdog also claimed it would analyse the impact of the pandemic on anti-doping, and said it had established a "strategic testing group" to "learn from this experience and see how the system may be strengthened further by this experience".

"WADA is conscious of the fact that the amount of testing activity will continue to vary globally given the regional differences in terms of public health restrictions," said WADA director general Olivier Niggli.

"Therefore, the agency will continue to keep a close eye on developments so that we can continue to work collaboratively with Anti-Doping Organisations to strike the appropriate balance between the protection of health and that of sport during these challenging times."