The World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday it was “actively exploring alternatives” after Swiss manufacturer Berlinger Special AG said it would stop making secure anti-doping sample collection bottles.
Berlinger announced earlier Friday that it was pulling out of the business but pledged to keep sending out collection kits until stocks ran out in a bid to prevent a short-term shortage.
WADA said it had contacted anti-doping agencies, accredited laboratories and sample collection agencies, including the International Olympic Committee, to update them on the situation and offer guidance “to secure the integrity of the doping control process”.
“In parallel, WADA is actively exploring alternative sources of sample collection kits and, to that end, is also collaborating with the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations and a number of Anti-Doping Organizations,” the agency's statement said.
WADA said in January it had looked into reports from one lab that a new-generation test kit produced by Berlinger could be “susceptible to manual opening without evidence of tampering”.
An older model was used instead at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month.
“WADA wishes to reassure athletes, anti-doping organizations and other stakeholders that it remains resolutely committed to following up with Berlinger and affected stakeholders as necessary until the matter is resolved and that it will keep stakeholders updated along the way,” the agency said.
In the 2014 Sochi Olympics doping scandal detailed in a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, investigators discovered that Russian staff involved had developed a method to open supposedly “tamper-proof” sample bottles undetected.
The far-reaching scandal saw Russia barred from the Pyeongchang Games, although Russian athletes who meet certain criteria were allowed to compete as neutrals.
Berlinger said Friday that “increasingly institutionalized forms of doping malpractice” had increased the demands made on the test kits.
“These developments are not only damaging to sport: they have become increasingly incompatible with our corporate values and core competencies,” chairwoman of the board Andrea Berlinger said in a statement posted on the company's website.