What is Virtual Dope Test and why USADA is conducting random testing programme?
To contain the highly contagious virus, almost everything is shutdown. Amidst this, the US Anti-Doping Agency has started one of its kind virtual drug test on athletes. In this virtual drug test, athletes collect urine and blood samples themselves at home, while being monitored over Zoom or FaceTime App by the USADA officials.
Since no one knows when the life will be back on track and when it will safe to test the athletes again in person, thus, the USADA started an experiment two weeks before. In this experiment, the USADA officials wanted to check whether the urine and blood samples could be collected virtually.
How the Anti-doping test is done online?
To start online drug tests, USADA officials sent kits to the athletes. The athletes will produce samples when they receive an unprecedented call from the USADA official. The doping control officer watches the blood sample being taken but the urine sample is allowed in private. The doping officer keeps an eye on the athletes via Zoom or FaceTime App.
For urine test:
The Athlete gives a virtual tour of his room to the doping control officer and then closes the door, keeping the camera right in front of the door. The athlete after collecting the urine sample will dip a strip in the urine on the camera to make sure that the sample is fresh. The container is then closed on camera with tamper-proof lid.
For blood test:
On camera, the athlete presses a device on his arm near the biceps. After this, the sample is sealed with a tamper-proof lid on camera.
The samples are then sent via overnight delivery to the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited lab for testing.
Normally, Olympians provide one-hour each day when they know exactly where they will be so that a doping control officer could make a surprise visit and collect the samples. The doping control official is of the same gender as the athlete and is present in the room with the athlete to observe the whole process.
Freestyle swimming great Katie Ledecky and athletes Noah Lyles and Allyson Felix were among those who volunteered. Due to the privacy concerns over the internet, the urine collection is done privately in an online test. However, if the experiment is successful, then, in the long run, the anti-doping agencies may save a lot and the athletes could be tested more often with zero chances of cheating.