New drug tests for top athletes
August 12, 2011
TOP athletes will undergo Tour de France-style blood tests for the first time at the world athletics championships.
The world's top athletes are set to undergo the blood controls prior to the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, the IAAF announced yesterday.
Athletics' world governing body, which has already adopted the biological passport programme pioneered by the world cycling authorities, aims to collect blood samples from all competing athletes prior to the August 27 start.
"The IAAF will collect blood samples from ALL athletes taking part in the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in an unprecedented anti-doping programme," the IAAF said in a statement yesterday.
The IAAF said the programme will be conducted "in close co-operation with the Lausanne WADA-accredited Anti-Doping Laboratory (LAD) and with the support of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)", as well as a number of "local partners" in Korea.
It will supplement the "regular doping controls that are collected at a World Championships", according to the statement.
The IAAF said an approximate total of 500 urine samples will be collected in and out of competition at the championships.
Cyclists at the Tour de France are traditionally subject to a pre-race medical during which they must give a blood sample.
However a more convincing deterrant is the biological passport programme, which allows anti-doping experts to register and chart the athletes biological markers over time, allowing comparison and further scrutiny if necessary.
It has been adopted by athletics chiefs who are keen to exploit it fully.
"As one of the leading International Sport Federations in the fight against doping, the IAAF has fully engaged in the implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport at an early stage since it believes it to be a key tool in the modern fight against doping," said the IAAF.
"The focus is not on the detection of prohibited substances or methods themselves, as for traditional doping tests, but on proving the use and effect of these substances and methods by way of abnormal variations in an athlete's biomarkers that would otherwise be stable."
In cycling, when a rider's sample proves suspicious he/she can be subject to targeted testing.
The IAAF plans to use the same approach: "Suspicious results from the screening analyses performed on-site could, where appropriate, trigger follow-up target tests in Daegu in urine (notably for EPO) and/or further analyses for prohibited substances or prohibited methods in blood in Lausanne."
The blood samples collected before the championships, meanwhile, will be used to detect banned blood boosters like EPO (erythropoietin) and illegal blood transfusions for endurance athletes, and steroids and growth hormones for those involved in the power events.
The IAAF added: "Notably, the analyses will not only screen markers indicating the use of EPO or blood manipulation in endurance events (as has been the IAAF's practice to date) but also markers potentially indicating steroid or growth hormone doping more relevant to the power disciplines.
"The data collected will therefore constitute a unique database of reference ranges for various biomarkers in elite male and female athletes competing in different disciplines and from different ethnic backgrounds.
"The IAAF considers this to constitute a major step forwards in the development of the Athlete Biological Passport in the sport of Athletics and indeed the Athlete Biological Passport generally."