UFS doping laboratory upgraded

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The laboratory at the University of the Free State (UFS) which used to do dope tests, specifically in sport, will be expanded and upgraded over the next four months. UFS spokesperson, Lacea Loader, said the university and the management of the South African Doping Control Laboratory (SADoCoL) voluntarily decided last month to temporarily close the laboratory for six months (from the beginning of April 2016) for some of its routine analytical duties. Loader said the decision was taken in consultation with UFS senior management and other role players, such as the Department of Sport and Recreation of South Africa (SRSA) and the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS). SADoCoL is a specialised service laboratory of the UFS and has been in existence for more than thirty years. It is an accredited laboratory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In view of the upgrades at the laboratory, WADA this week suspended its accreditation to perform doping control analysis on biological samples of athletes and sportsmen and -women until 30 September 2016. Loader said due to the everincreasing demands in the number, variety and analytical sensitivity of compounds to be analysed according to the Prohibited List of WADA, technical and infrastructure adaptations had to be made at the laboratory. “It (upgrade) is needed to keep up with the demands.” Loader said SADoCoL has drastically increased its capacity in both personnel and infrastructure over the last year but cannot cope with the expansions and the workload of normal routine analyses at the same time. She added during the suspension period the laboratory will test its new systems in order to achieve the standard presently required by WADA. The new developments will be done in close collaboration with other role players concerned with anti-doping in South Africa, such as SAIDS and SRSA. Loader said other new scientific developments from other doping control laboratories in the world would be studied to assure that the high analytical quality is maintained and expanded to meet the fast growing challenges in this field. – André Grobler

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