North Korea to let doping officials back in for testing

Sport

Published: 2023-10-08 10:33

Last Updated: 2024-02-26 07:31


North Korea to let doping officials back in for testing
North Korea to let doping officials back in for testing

North Korea has agreed to let drug-testing officials back into the country, the Olympic Council of Asia said Sunday, a move it hopes will temper a row over its flag being flown at the Asian Games.

North Korea has been largely closed off from the outside world since early 2020, when it shut its borders because of the Covid pandemic.

The World Anti-Doping Agency declared North Korea's national anti-doping body "non-compliant" in 2021 because it was unable to get its testers into the country and imposed sanctions.

But border restrictions appear to be easing slightly and OCA acting director general Vinod Kumar Tiwari told reporters in Hangzhou: "North Korea has written a letter to them very recently telling them that the borders have opened and they can send their doping control officers for the testing.

"WADA has agreed and they will probably be sending their people to North Korea."

The Montreal-based WADA confirmed the reopening, but told AFP that "the broader political status of the country means verification and quality control activities are not straightforward".

One of the sanctions on North Korea is not being able to fly its flag at any regional, continental or world sports event, excluding the Olympics and Paralympics.

Despite this, it has been routinely hoisted at the Games in Hangzhou, with WADA warning the OCA of "consequences" for allowing it to happen in breach of its obligations as a signatory to its anti-doping code.

"We have been in touch with WADA on a daily basis and we are trying to resolve the issue," said Tiwari.

"It's a very sensitive issue, it's not very easy to handle. Hopefully, things will be resolved in a way that is mutually acceptable to both parties."

There are a range of punishments WADA could impose on the Kuwait-based OCA.

They include having International Olympic Committee (IOC) funding withdrawn, OCA events losing their status as qualifying events for the Olympic or Paralympic Games and the imposition of fines.

North Korea's participation at the Asian Games marks its return to the global sporting arena for the first time since slamming its borders shut during the pandemic.

It has produced some eye-opening results, notably in weightlifting, where its competitors smashed multiple world records.