Testing of athletes for the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs has been severely undermined by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
That’s the word from chairman of the National Anti-Doping Commission of Barbados, Dr Adrian Lorde, in the wake of Barbados being placed under a 24-hour curfew in the effort to combat the spread of the virus. Restrictions allow only for the movement of workers in essential services and persons shopping for food or seeking medical care, medicine or other vital items. But, according to Lorde, testing officers do not fall under the category of providing essential services
“Our local control officers are not essential workers under the legislation, so they cannot do any testing of athletes during the lockdown. What we can do is still monitor and educate the athletes as we are doing presently,” Lorde said.
He explained that while the process was the same for testing a track and field athlete, a cricketer or anyone playing a team sport, the selection procedure was different.
“It is the same process once the athlete is selected. However, the selection is different. Whereas in a track and field event the testing is done based on position, either random, pre-competition and in competition, in cricket, the selection can be done pre-competition, out of competition or in competition, where two persons from each side are chosen just before the end of the match and they are taken to the doping control officer to undertake the doping controls as we call it,” Lorde explained.
He stated that after the coronavirus pandemic was over, the way testing officers conducted doping controls would be slightly different.
“We still will be using our safe physical distancing, we will be using even more proper hygienic procedures where we will be washing hands before, during and after the procedure and taking other safety measures,” Lorde said.
He stressed that even if testing was not being done, athletes had been encouraged to continue to provide their whereabouts to the anti-doping body.
“It is important that athletes continue to update their whereabouts because that is salient. Their whereabouts information should be given every quarter including where there are expected to be. For instance, some may have been expected to be at CARIFTA swimming, chess, or some other competition at this time. But all sporting events have been cancelIed and they are not there. They still need to update their whereabouts so that they will not be in contravention of the World Anti Doping Code, where it is necessary to give your whereabouts from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. out of a one-hour period as to where they surely will be at a particular time. They normally will give competitive time and training time during this period. Their training time will be blank and they must give information as to exactly where they are. Local-based athletes and Barbadian athletes who are overseas should continue to give their whereabouts information to the National Anti Doping Commission,” Lorde told Barbados TODAY.
Lorde who is a director of the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) said athletes should continue to train during the lockdown even though they were prohibited from going outdoors.
“The athletes need to continue training. They cannot go outside and train, but they need to do some exercising and mental preparation. Most of their coaches may be advising them on what they should and shouldn’t do. There are several simple exercises an athlete can do depending on what sport they are in. So that they will be ready once the gun goes and they start training again. In this way, they will not lose their full fitness, what they will lose is their competitive fitness.
“A long period of inactivity is something that athletes are not accustomed to. Even in their off-season, they are doing other training activities . . . During this period of inactiveness, a number of things can happen. Boredom can set in, or they might find themselves eating too much and losing their fitness and competitiveness. Therefore it is essential that they do a lot of mental training and have some kind of physical activity within the home or within the home situation. These activities should be conducted according to the rules and laws of the land that govern the country during this lockdown period,” Lorde said.
The senior sports administrator stated that athletes would continue to receive funding from the BOA through their national federations if they are in the elite or the emerging categories locally or internationally. He added that the funding for their upkeep would continue during the pandemic.