The laboratory responsible for handling drug testing during the Rio Olympics has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency in the latest episode of the ongoing worldwide doping scandal.
The anti-doping laboratory in Rio de Janeiro has been ordered to cease conducting tests after Wada suspended its accreditation due to “non-conformity with the International Standard for Laboratories”. It did not give any further details about the “non-conformity”.
The suspension is the latest blow to worldwide athletics after Russian athletes were banned from competing at the games, which are due to start on 5 August, after it was discovered the country carried out institutionalised doping.
In November, Russia was suspended from all track and field events after an independent report from Wada found the culture of cheating was so widespread there were suggestions secret services were involved.
Last week, a second Wada report found Russian athletes were still 18 to 24 months away from full compliance with anti-doping rules.
John Coates, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president, has branded Russia’s interior anti-doping agency as “rotten to the core”.
The news is also a major embarrassment for Brazil, which has been hit by months of economic and political turmoil and major health fears over the Zika virus.
Rio Games spokesman Mario Andrada said: "This is another severe blow. We might not resolve this lab situation before the games. We might have to choose another lab outside Brazil to do the tests. But this will be under the instruction and guidance of Wada."
If the lab is not reinstated within the next six weeks, testing of athletes will have to take place in the US, Mexico, Colombia and Cuba.
The agency's latest move "prohibits the laboratory from carrying out all anti-doping analyses on urine and blood samples", Wada said in a statement.
Wada's incoming director general Olivier Niggli said: "This will ensure that there are no gaps in the anti-doping sample analysis procedures, and that the integrity of the samples is fully maintained."
He added that the agency "will work closely with the Rio laboratory to resolve the identified issue".
The laboratory can appeal against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for 21 days.
Additional reporting by AP
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