By Karolos Grohmann
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea will be the first Games to have an independent drugs testing authority (ITA) in place to deal with doping among competitors, the International Olympic Committee said on Sunday.
The IOC has been working towards setting up the ITA as an independent testing body to take over testing for the IOC and international federations.
“We will assist it but (testing) in Pyeongchang will be under the authority of the ITA,” IOC medical chief Richard Budgett told reporters. “It will be there in Pyeongchang, even if in a preliminary form.”
“Responsibility will be passed to the ITA. The resources of the IOC will be there at their disposal,” he said.
Until the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the IOC was responsible for doping tests during the Olympics.
Budgett said the ITA would not be in a position to take over testing from an international federation by February next year, but it would be able to operate in Pyeongchang and would decide who to test, when and for what substances.
The IOC is desperate to boost the fight against doping with Russian track and field athletes banned from last year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics due to a widespread state-backed doping system that involved many sports in the country.
More than 100 positive cases have also emerged in re-testing samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics, while the IOC is also re-testing samples from the Sochi 2014 winter Games in Russia and the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics.
Budgett said the IOC would be financially supporting the ITA for the first few years but was confident the new organization would be able to operate independently after that by charging international federations for their services.
(Editing by Edmund Blair)