U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will continue to test athletes preparing to go to Tokyo Olympics

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will focus its testing efforts on athletes in sports still competing and preparing to go to the Tokyo Olympics, it announced on Tuesday.

USADA is also taking measures to ensure safe collection of samples during the COVID-19 pandemic, including using protective gear where feasible.

CEO Travis Tygart said the agency has already had to work through situations where measures put in place to mitigate the novel coronavirus have made it more difficult to test athletes.

“If and where mission critical, we just have to work through gaining the access that people need,” Tygart said.

Tygart said he has heard from several athletes concerned about maintaining testing if the Tokyo Olympics go on as planned. Until Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee had maintained the position that the Games would open on July 24 as scheduled.

“I’ve just been overwhelmed with their position that you can’t shut down,” Tygart said.

Han Xiao, chair of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s athletes’ advisory council, said continued testing remains important because of the role USADA plays in advocating for clean sport worldwide.

“If the IOC is saying that the Games are going to continue, then the athletes in general want to make sure that everybody is on a level playing field,” he said. “Obviously we hope that all of USADA’s employees and the doping control officers can stay safe and take the appropriate precautions, but at the same line, as long as everybody says the Games are going to continue, this is the position we’re in.”

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