The Board of Directors of Berlinger Special AG has resolved that the company will cease production of its doping control kits in the medium term. To avoid jeopardizing current anti-doping activities, the company will continue to supply its present customers at their request for a transitional period, in agreement with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Eastern Swiss technology company Berlinger Special AG has been manufacturing doping control kits featuring special security containers since the 1990s. The kits are used all over the world, and Berlinger's involvement reflects a long-standing commitment to ensuring fair and clean sporting competition.

Increasingly institutionalized forms of doping malpractice have steadily raised and changed the demands on these anti-doping kits over the years. "These developments are not only damaging to sport: they have become increasingly incompatible with our corporate values and core competencies," says Chairwoman of the Board Andrea Berlinger. "And in view of this, we have taken the strategic decision to make an orderly withdrawal from this business segment over the next few months, and to focus on the high-tech core business of Berlinger & Co. AG."

No doping control vacuum
Berlinger Special AG recently ceased supplying its doping control kits, following cases of breakages of the glass bottles used at a small number of laboratories and in materials tests conducted by the bottle supplier and the EMPA Swiss federal materials testing institute. The test results confirmed, however, that the risk of such breakage is a manageable one.

In view of this, in agreement with the World Anti-Doping Agency (as the regulatory body) and at the request of existing customers, Berlinger is willing to meet the continued demand for the BEREG-Kits used at the recent PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games for as long as stocks last. This will ensure - in as much as Berlinger is able to do so - the continued conducting of doping controls in the immediate future, and the avoidance of any gap therein.

The Board of Directors of Berlinger Special AG will decide on the concrete arrangements for the company's withdrawal from the doping control kit segment in due course. Toggenburg-based Berlinger & Co. AG will in future specialize on its core high-tech cold chain monitoring business activities.

WADA respons
On 2 March, WADA was advised by Berlinger that feedback from one of its customers had raised possible concerns over the integrity of some of its bottles and that it had initiated an examination. Specifically, the customer reported that a limited number of bottles had cracked when frozen. This cracking was noticed mainly in the ‘BEREG-KIT Geneva’ model, the production of which Berlinger had discontinued due to reports of improper closing in January 2018; and, to a much lesser extent, in the latest batch of the ‘BEREG-KIT’ model.

WADA immediately sought to collect more information from Berlinger as to the specifics and scale of the alleged integrity issues in order to ensure an effective and quick solution was developed by Berlinger for its clients that served the global anti-doping program. With the same intention, WADA also reached out to a sampling of the accredited laboratories and the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO) to determine whether the laboratories or National Anti-Doping Organizations had experienced any such incidences. To the best of WADA’s understanding, no others have experienced a similar issue to date.

WADA will continue gathering information from Berlinger and its customers in order to propose solutions that will maintain the integrity of the doping control process. In parallel, WADA is actively exploring alternative sources of sample collection kits and, to that end, is also collaborating with the iNADO and a number of Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs).

Earlier today, WADA wrote to all ADOs, accredited laboratories and sample collection agencies, including the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, to update them on the situation and to provide detailed guidance to secure the integrity of the doping control process.

WADA wishes to reassure athletes, anti-doping organizations and other stakeholders that it remains resolutely committed to following up with Berlinger and affected stakeholders as necessary until the matter is resolved and that it will keep stakeholders updated along the way.

It should be noted that manufacturers of security bottles, such as Berlinger, are responsible for the development, testing, distribution and monitoring of the equipment they produce and provide to their customers. It is up to each ADO to decide which sample collection equipment it uses provided it meets the requirements of Article 6.3.4 of WADA’s International Standard for Testing and Investigations (ISTI).