Romanian lab officials covered up positive tests - WADA

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The top two officials at a suspended Romanian anti-doping laboratory have been removed from their posts after being found to have covered up positive samples, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Thursday.

The Bucharest laboratory was provisionally suspended by WADA last November due to non-compliance and has yet to be re-instated.

Gunter Younger, WADA's director of intelligence and investigations, told Reuters that a whistleblower had contacted WADA with allegations about the laboratory.

"We started an investigation, we looked into email communications and interviewed people," he said at a WADA symposium at Lord's cricket ground. "And we could establish that actually there was a cover-up, at least two samples we could definitely say.

"We could establish that the director and the deputy director were involved in the cover-up," he added.

Younger, a Munich police officer who has worked for Europol and Interpol, said the Romanian government had removed the individuals concerned.

He added, however, that there was no clear motivation for the director's actions, suggesting he was acting on instruction from others.

The investigation had since been extended to "an outside entity" and remained ongoing.

"We are confident that by the end of the year we will have a result but then we will tell the government first whether this is enough evidence and then we will see how the government will react.

"There must be at least one more person (involved)," he added.

Younger said his unit, created in 2016, with two teams of an investigator and analyst, had registered 434 cases to date from whistleblowers with five ongoing investigations.

WADA's main focus in recent years has been on Russia, with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) suspended in November 2015 after an independent WADA report outlined evidence of widespread state-backed, systematic doping and cover-ups in Russian sport.

WADA moved to reinstate RUSADA in September, opening a pathway for Russia to compete in international sport again despite opposition from many international athletes.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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