- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - The drug-testing laboratory for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics could lose its accreditation just a few months before the games.

Brazil’s national anti-doping body was placed on a “watch list” by the World Anti-Doping Agency in November.

In a statement Friday to The Associated Press, WADA said Brazil’s agency has until March 18 to meet its guidelines or it will ” immediately be automatically made non-compliant.”

“This was due to issues with its (Brazil’s) rules not being in line with the (WADA) code,” the global body said.

If Brazil’s agency is declared non-compliant, the Rio lab would lose its accreditation, meaning thousands of doping samples during the Olympics in August could have to be sent outside Brazil for testing.

WADA lifted a previous suspension on the lab four months ago. That suspension forced samples from the 2014 World Cup to be shipped to Switzerland for testing.

WADA said it met recently with Brazilian authorities to work on implementing “the code into the Brazilian legal system.”

The IOC’s medical director, Dr. Richard Budgett, told The Associated Press that he believes it is “unlikely” that Rio’s lab won’t be ready for the Olympics. But he said contingency plans are being devised in case the lab is not available.

Labs in other countries in the Americas could be used, rather than sending the samples to Switzerland.

The laboratory is another stumbling block for Rio organizers, who are trying to assure athletes and foreign visitors that the games will be safe from the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Rio is cutting $500 million to balance its $2 billion operating budget. It also faces severe water pollution at venues for canoeing, rowing and sailing and the country goes through its deepest recession since the 1930s.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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