WADA monitoring Covid vaccine protocol as India pushes for early access for its Olympians

Amid the new-look sporting set up in between the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 is set to be one of the marquee events

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown up new challenges to which the sporting world is slowly finding solutions.

Events are being conducted inside a bio-bubble environment which restricts exposure to players and officials, matches have been played without the crowd, and players are being tested for coronavirus on a regular basis.

Amid the new-look sporting set up in between the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 is set to be one of the marquee events, and the Indian athletes are beginning their preparations.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is taking time to learn about the vaccine composition. WADA is curious to learn about the composition to ensure that athletes don't fall in trouble with doping regulations, although they're extremely confident that such a situation is unlikely.

“Athletes can be rest assured that in the highly unlikely event that a vaccine causes a possible anti-doping rule violation under the World Anti-Doping Code, WADA’s oversight of any subsequent results management will ensure that vaccines and the principles of anti-doping do not come into conflict,” the agency said in a statement.

Indian Olympic Association president Dr Narinder Batra

WADA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pfizer and representative body of the industry - the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

“WADA is in communication with them on this matter in order to ascertain the exact composition of the various vaccines currently being made available. WADA will continue to communicate with athletes and other stakeholders as relevant information becomes available,” the agency said.

In this context, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra had earlier indicated that India will push for early access to the vaccine for its athletes who will participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, had also indicated the same.

“Whether it is the Tokyo Olympics or any big event happening, the preference will be given to Olympic-bound athletes as well as the (support) staff because it is time-bound. Our athletes will be given preference and we will work it out with the Health Ministry,” Rijiju had earlier told PTI.

Batra echoed his words while asserting that IOA will heed WADA’s advice.

“We appreciate that the government is thinking about the athletes but we have to make sure that the vaccines do not have any ingredients that could lead to a failed dope test. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have in talks with various stakeholders regarding this issue. We will wait for their advice,” he said.