Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What does it take to provoke a lab audit?


According to the WADA International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), WADA is allowed to do an audit of an accredited laboratory at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. To the best of our knowledge, the LNDD has never been the subject of such an audit, nor do we know of any other labs that have been audited after their initial accreditations.

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This raises questions:

  • Why is the audit clause in the ISL?
  • Does WADA think audits are a bad thing?
  • Why have there been no audits?
  • What would it take to provoke an audit?
  • If an audit is called for, should its scheduling be related to that of open cases?
The impression given is that WADA has complete faith in the accreditation process and it's proficiency testing, so there is is no need to ever perform an audit. Yet the clause exists in the ISL, and must be there for a reason.

It seems like an abnegation of the oversight role WADA ought to be having over the laboratories. If they are not providing the oversight, who is? In business, companies have outside auditors to validate that their records as reported are correct. When there are questions raised about possibly improper activities, the first thing done is an audit.

In the example of the LNDD and Landis cases, there have been plenty of questions raised about the performance of the laboratory. A reasonable reaction by WADA would be to run an audit on the lab before the case was concluded. This would be resolve any institutional concerns or questions that the case was being properly put forward. The result might be a whitewash (always a possibility), it might reveal problems that ought to be corrected, or it might add credibility to the labs reputation at a time when it has been doubted.

If the questions that have been raised against the LNDD are not enough to provoke an audit, what would it take to do so? Then, if an audit is needed, is it proper to adjust its schedule because of perceived politics about outstanding cases involving the lab? That is, is it proper for WADA to advance or delay a deserved audit to do it before a case hearing, or push it off until after the hearing?

An organization that is attempting to uphold ethical standards and have a desire for truth and justice ought to be responsive to such concerns. Blindly asserting total faith in organizations that need oversight and supervision is not an effective way to ensure public confidence.

In the case of the LNDD, the appropriate action should be to conduct an immediate and full audit of the lab before the Landis case goes to hearing. If the lab comes out with a clean bill of health, that strengthens the ADA case. If it has notable failings, that data should be made available to the Landis defense. Doing anything less is dishonest.

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2 comments:

Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

No wonder they use white-out...

Debby said...

Someone would leak to the lab that the auditors were on the way...not to mention the fact that the auditors probably work for WADA, UCI, etc, instead of an independent organization...how could the cycling public be reassured that the audit was not corrupt?? The evaluation forms will probably be whited-out as well.