Drug testing protocols thrown into chaos because of the virus ahead of the rescheduled games have athletes on edge.

Athletes fear the Tokyo Olympic Games could be the dirtiest on record with drug testing protocols thrown into chaos because of the virus.

Olympic champion Mack Horton has revealed that he wasn’t drug tested for nine months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with several athletes concerned that global testing is far behind where it needs to be ahead of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, which begin on July 23.

Difficulties faced by testing agencies amid the lockdowns hindered their mission to conduct tests as usual with travel restrictions and health concerns creating a massive obstacle.

Mack Horton

However, testing has started to ramp up again domestically since restrictions have been lifted across the nation. But Horton questioned how all athletes across the globe will go into the event without being tested regularly. Athletes were still required to be available for testing at any time in 2020 from the World Anti-Doping Agency. But WADA suffered a 50 per cent drop in its testing rate last year in comparison to 2019 mainly due to a lack of sport being played and access to athletes.

“I didn’t get tested for maybe eight or nine months during lockdown in Melbourne. But they’ve started introducing COVID safe testing, pretty much when we came out of that massive lockdown in Melbourne testing started again,” Horton said.

“Of course it’s a worry. The thing that’s not ideal is different standards in every country.”

To make up for the lull in testing, the International Olympic Committee is expected to go on a testing blitz immediately before and during competition.

“The limited number of sporting competitions that took place in 2020, as well as the restrictions linked to the pandemic, had a considerable impact on the number of samples collected, especially between March and June,” the IOC said in March.

“However, sample collection, which focused on higher risk sports, was almost back to normal during the second part of the year.”

Sport Integrity Australia, formerly ASADA, admitted the situation was extremely challenging but the speed and number of tests had now returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.

“We maintained the ability to deliver critical testing, where required, however we adapted our testing program to the environment at the time to ensure the health and safety of our staff and athletes and to ensure compliance with relevant health directions,” SIA said.

“Sport Integrity Australia is a member of the Tokyo Olympics pre-games taskforce and planned testing of Australian athletes in the lead up to Tokyo is on track.”

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