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Rio Drug Testing Lab Is Suspended Weeks Before Olympics

Sports Minister George Hilton (top right) visits the Brazilian Doping Control Laboratory in Rio de Janeiro last month. The lab, which had been set to test samples from Olympic athletes in August, has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Felipe Dana

The Brazilian laboratory that was designated to conduct drug testing for the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency for not conforming to international standards.

News of the suspension came in a statement issued in Montreal. The decision can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days.

The action by the agency that keeps track of doping in sports with the help of three dozen testing labs around the globe comes just six weeks before the games are set to open in August.

As the New York Times reports:

"The Rio lab had a prior disciplinary record and is one of a handful of labs that have had their certifications to conduct drug testing revoked by WADA in the regulator's 17-year history. ...

"While under suspension, the lab is barred from conducting any antidoping analysis on urine and blood samples. It was unclear Friday if the issue would be resolved — and the suspension lifted — in time for the Rio Games, though officials expressed skepticism that such a dramatic reversal could be processed within weeks."

This is not the first time the Rio lab has been suspended by WADA. The lab was shut down during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Blood samples from soccer players were flown to Switzerland for testing.

WADA's statement did not specify its complaints about the Brazilian Doping Control Laboratory at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement, officials at the Brazilian lab called the suspension "temporary" and expressed their optimism that operations at the lab will resume as normal in July.

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Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
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