KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Rio de Janeiro Olympics organisers confident that the city’s dope-testing laboratory will be back up and running in good time for the Games in August.
Carlos Nuzman, president of the local organising committee, delivered at a news conference in London today a similar message to the one he had presented to the executive board of the International Olympic Committee earlier in the week.
Rio’s controversial laboratory lost its accreditation ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2014, forcing organisers to fly test samples from each match to Switzerland for testing in Lausanne.
With doping now such a major headline issue Rio’s ability to have the facility in approved working order had been considered something of a litmus test for preparations for the entire event.
Nuzman said: “We will have the Rio doping laboratory fully accredited with a correct legal framework. It will be in full operations for the Games.
“All the written regulations have been approved by the IOC, by the World Anti-Doping Agency and by the local organising committee and now it is in the hands of the federal government until March 15 when we expect to have all the documentation.
“It is also important because the IOC and the Court of Arbitration for Sport have decided on a new procedure for these Games and I think this be a strong legacy.”
CAS, at the initiative and with the blessing of the IOC, is creating its own independent anti-doping division specifically for Rio.
Nuzman presented a vision for the Games at odds with perceptions created by the nose-diving Brazilian economy, the Petrobras corruption scandal, a shutdown of schools and hospitals and the possible impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.
“The city is doing an incredible job,” he said. Almost half of the 6.6m tickets had been sold which was impressive in a country where – as with the World Cup – Brazilians left it until the last minute to buy in.
He hoped to add more sponsors in the next five months but 707 suppliers contracts had been signed and construction of only one of the permanent venues had been delayed.
This was the velodrome where the track remained to be laid after the city government had brought in a new construction company.
Nuzman also conceded that budget issues had meant cutbacks in terms of temporary venues, corporate hospitality facilities and the number of volunteers.
Further, his assessment of the pace of preparations concerned only the venues themselves and made no allowance for the problems in settling on several of the final venues as with, for example, the golf course.
A test event for golf was scheduled for next week to add to the 25 already staged, mostly with specifically-created national events rather than international competitions.
Nuzman was confident that the crucial new Metro Linha 4 – after recent controversial claims – would be ready in good time.
He said: “This is 90pc completed. The state secretary for transport says it will be in Olympic operational status on July 4. The testing phase has already begun.”