The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has issued the latest guidance for testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, following a review.
WADA said its Strategic Testing Expert Group reviewed the initial document published in May, with input from both the World Health Organization and a group of National Anti-Doping Organizations.
It is claimed that the new guidance reflects the latest scientific knowledge on the pandemic, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs).
The document outlines how ADOs can operate their testing programmes in line with recommended heath and hygiene procedures, WADA added, to protect the health and safety of athletes and sample collection personnel.
Programmes need to be carried out in accordance to the International Standard for Testing and Investigations.
WADA director general Olivier Niggli said there had been a strong commitment from ADOs to conduct testing safely during the pandemic.
He acknowledged that testing numbers had been impacted by the health crisis, but stressed testing was not the only tool ADOs have to detect possible doping.
"WADA is pleased to provide this updated ADO guidance to continue to help maintain the integrity of the anti-doping system during the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring the health and safety of athletes, sample collection personnel and others,” Niggli said.
"Subject to the level of restrictions in place in each country, it is crucial that the testing of athletes continues and that ADOs have the necessary information and procedures to do so in a structured and safe way.
"While COVID-19 has had an impact on testing, there has been a very strong commitment by ADOs over the past months to resume and continue to conduct testing under strengthened health and hygiene protocols.
"In October 2020, ADOs collected approximately 21,000 samples, and when compared to October 2019 this accounts for 76 per cent of the total number of samples and 84 per cent collected out-of-competition.
"In times when testing may be temporarily diminished due to restrictions imposed by Government authorities and with limited sports events being held, the anti-doping community has other tools to maintain the integrity of the anti-doping system.
"For example, the Athlete Biological Passport programme can be used to assess the longer-term profile of each athlete; intelligence that is received through whistleblower programmes such as WADA's 'Speak Up!' can lead to target-testing and/or investigations; and, sample storage enables further analysis as science advances and detection techniques are refined.
"As the global leader of the fight against doping in sport, WADA wants to ensure that ADOs worldwide use everything at their disposal to secure the integrity of sporting events as they recommence."
WADA said the latest guidance includes a detailed assessment process to determine the level of sample collection that can take place.
Steps and procedures that an ADO should put in place prior to conducting a sample collection session are outlined, as well as additional directions on how to prioritize testing and athletes, plus measures for conducting in-competition testing.
The testing of sample collection personnel for COVID-19 was included as an additional risk mitigation measure for ADOs to consider.
WADA added that it remains available to assist ADOs in supporting and monitoring their anti-doping programme implementation.
Click Here to see the updated guidance Full GUIDANCE FOR TESTING DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC