The eyes of the world will be watching as Canada hosts what are considered the very pinnacle of excellence in competitive sport, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. To ensure a level playing field and bolster confidence in the Vancouver games, athletes participating in official competition will be required to undergo blood and urine tests.
Conducting this testing is the Laval-based, Institut national de la recherche scientifique Institut Armand-Frappier Doping Control Laboratory (INRS). The laboratory is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC)’s Program for the Accreditation of Laboratories in Canada (PALCAN), to the international standard for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories (ISO/IEC 17025:2005).
At a ceremony held on Wednesday, January 20, SCC presented the accreditation certificate to INRS’s director of the doping control, Christiane Ayotte.
“The INRS doping control laboratory is particularly proud of the ISO 17025 accreditation it has received from the SCC (BNQ), for its satellite laboratory at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Richmond, British Columbia,” says Ayotte.
INRS has established a state-of-the-art facility at the Olympic Oval specifically for the Games. Before achieving their accreditation, INRS’ satellite laboratory had to undergo a two-month audit of their new facility and staff.
The Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee’s goal includes ensuring that the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics are completely free of performance-enhancing drugs. Aggressive testing and accurate results are crucial to this goal.
“The Committee, and the athletes being tested, can be assured that INRS meets the high level of quality that SCC demands of all its accredited clients,” says John Walter, SCC Executive Director. “SCC accreditation provides confidence that laboratory results are as accurate as possible.” Ayotte concurs.
“The rigour (the accreditation) imposes is a badge of excellence and obtaining it assures athletes, the International Olympic Committee and national and international sports federations that they can expect the high quality work that is crucial to anti-doping efforts,” she says.
Achieving accreditation from SCC is old hat for the laboratory; it first sought accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 in 2001, and has been regularly undergoing audits ever since.
The laboratory strove to achieve this latest accreditation late in 2009 so it would be equipped to officially begin testing pre-competition samples from Olympic and Paralympic athletes beginning February 4, 2010.
During the Olympics, which run from February 12 to 28, and the Paralympics, which will take place from March 12 to 21, the lab will test about 2,425 urine and blood samples from athletes, the highest number of tests ever performed during this type of event.
The satellite laboratory will close in late March, once the Games are over.