PARIS — The World Anti-Doping Agency has provisionally stopped France’s only accredited anti-doping laboratory from carrying out testing after a positive sample it analyzed from a bodybuilder contaminated two other samples with traces of a steroid.

The indefinite suspension means France’s anti-doping agency will have to send blood and urine samples abroad for testing, until the facility in the Paris suburb of Chatenay-Malabry is re-accredited by WADA.

The French agency’s secretary general, Mathieu Teoran, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that it’s not clear when the suspension might be lifted.

The lab will be used for drug testing when Paris hosts the Olympic Games in 2024. It has previously been recognized for pioneering work in drug testing. It has never been suspended before, Teoran said.

The problem originated with a batch of 80 samples taken from bodybuilders, he said. Many of the samples tested positive, and some were found to contain 17 different substances, he said.

One sample with a particularly high concentrations of a steroid — some 200 times higher than generally found in positive cases — left traces of the substance on a testing machine, which then contaminated two other samples, he said.

Such machines are rinsed between samples to prevent contamination. But the cleaning procedure wasn’t sufficient this time, he said.

The lab detected the problem on a Friday night, Aug. 25, and WADA was informed three days later, on the following Monday, he said.

The fault has since been fixed and samples were analyzed again. He said no athlete was wrongly punished because of the contamination.

“We re-analyzed entire waves of samples to ensure that there were no other problems,” he said. “We think it’s resolved.”

The lab is now waiting for a WADA audit, he said.

A WADA statement said the lab’s accreditation was suspended because of “analytical issues” but did not detail them.

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JOHN LEICESTER
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