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First riders take to track at Rio's Olympic velodrome

Track finally finished ... though city's anti-doping lab has now lost WADA accreditation...

Cyclists have this weekend finally taken to the track of the velodrome in Rio, just a month and a half before it plays host to the Olympic Games.

The venue is the last one to be handed over to organisers, although there are still some minor works to be completed, reports Mail Online.

UCI technical delegate Giles Peruzzi said that news the venue is almost finished is a “positive outcome.”

Some 30 mainly local riders took part in the first sessions at the venue. "It's certainly not ideal, but given the circumstances we're very happy to have some practice this weekend," Peruzzi added.

While the track is in place, food and drink stands and temporary seating still have to be installed, among other features.

Switzerland’s Gael Suter, who will ride at the Games and was at the venue yesterday, said: "We see that the building is still under construction, so there is a bit of dust on the track.

"Maybe it is not 100 percent yet. But no doubt it will be ready for the Olympics, and it will be a fast track."

In recent months, the UCI has become increasingly concerned over whether the venue would be finished on time, with a test event first postponed, then cancelled altogether.

The build-up to the Olympics has been overshadowed by an economic and political crisis in Brazil, as well as concerns over athletes' personal security following several robberies at gunpoint and fears about the Zika virus.

But Christophe Dubi, executive director of the Olympic Games, said: "What is amazing is the resilience of these people here.

"Because they've faced a lot of hardships and they've overcome them, one after another. The velodrome was a massive, massive last-minute effort."

He added: "When you are inside 40 days as we are, you still have a lot of details. And you can see around you there are still a lot of people working. This is where we are — the last minute."

Meanwhile, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suspended the accreditation of the Rio anti-doping laboratory, reports the website Inside The Games.

A similar situation happened ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, hosted by Brazil, which meant the 9,000 samples collected at the tournament needed to be sent to Barcelona for testing.

Should samples from athletes participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games have to be tested away from Rio, that is likely to prove more of a problem logistically as a result of the numbers involved.

WADA director general David Howman said: "This lab produced a whole list of false positives, and falsely accusing people is top of the pile of serious issues.”

In response, organisers said: "Rio 2016 is totally committed to clean Games with a full anti-doping programme.

"We are working together with WADA and the Brazilian Government to ensure this."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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