WADA has published the report of the independent observers at Jakarta Palembang 2018 ©WADA

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent observers (IO) team has praised the system in operation at last year's Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang but raised concerns in areas including doping control stations and sample transportation.

The report published by the IO team, led by Canada's Jeremy Luke, claimed the anti-doping programme at Jakarta Palembang 2018 "demonstrated significant progress in a number of areas compared to previous Asian Games".

These included the test distribution plan, targeted intelligence-based testing and the professionalism of doping control officers.

The IO report also provided several recommendations and outlined concerns noted by the team during the Games, held in the two Indonesian cities in August and September.

The IO team recommended the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) should outsource the management of the anti-doping operation to one organisation, such as the International Testing Agency (ITA), rather than managing the system through the OCA Medical Committee and Anti-Doping Commission.

German company Professional Worldwide Controls were appointed to administer the drug-testing system at the event as it came too soon for the ITA, which became fully operational last year.

Establishing an anti-doping taskforce, such as the one implemented by the Commonwealth Games Federation at Gold Coast 2018, for future editions of the Asian Games was another recommendation.

The IO team also admitted its disappointment with the lack of education around the Games and said this should be a prerequisite for participation at the event.

Education was one of the main issues highlighted by the IO, along with doping control stations and a lack of arrangements for sample transportation.

The IO team praised the anti-doping system at the 2018 Asian Games but also highlighted several concerns ©Getty Images
The IO team praised the anti-doping system at the 2018 Asian Games but also highlighted several concerns ©Getty Images

Among the principle issues found by the IO team was poor quality doping control stations, which "initially did not meet basic privacy or comfort expectations and were well below standards compared to other aspects of the venues".

"The doping control stations in Jakarta/Palembang posed not only numerous challenges for the operations of the doping control programme but also gave the impression that doping control was an after-thought," the report added.

The IO report said, however, that the group "did not observe any situation that called into question the integrity, security and identity of the samples during the sample collection process".

Transport of samples caused delays to the operation due to the absent arrangements as the OCA chose not to implement a similar system to the one used in Guangzhou, widely praised by the IO team.

The IO also claimed the results management process, where the OCA Disciplinary Commission was charged with conducting the hearing and making a recommendation to the Executive Committee on possible violations, could be improved.

"Engaging the OCA Executive Board in the decision may call into question the independence of the hearing process," the report said.

Luke insisted he was pleased with the overall structure put in place by the OCA, which the IO report said had coped with the challenges presented at the Games.

"On behalf of the IO team I would like to commend the OCA for the efforts put in place to protect the rights of clean athletes to compete on a level playing field in Jakarta and Palembang," Luke said. 

"In its report, the IO team highlighted a number of areas where progress has been achieved compared to previous Asian Games along with a number of recommendations for the OCA to consider for future editions of the Games. 

"The success of the IO team's mission was due in large part to the excellent cooperation and support provided by the OCA and the other groups involved in the delivery of the anti-doping programme."

The full report can be read here.