Investigating the cheats

THE AUSTRALIAN Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has taken a new approach to anti-doping testing since its beginnings in 2006. Whereas other anti-doping authorities rely only upon testing, ASADA has the power to investigate privately and obtain information from other legal agencies within Australia, writes Danni Cox.

Ings: Anti-doping will become more difficult, despite advances in technology

The new system has proven to be very effective with sanctioned cases doubling since they took over from the Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA). In fact, the new regime has even managed to successfully take action against athletes who have not yet taken performance enhancing substances.

Most notably in the case of Andrew Wyper who was sanctioned for ordering and taking action to obtain illegal doping substances. These substances were intercepted before he received them and he was banned from competing in any sport for two years, despite not having taken the drugs.

Richard Ings (pictured left), the CEO and Chairman of ASADA, spoke today on this successful new approach: “If we look forward, if we think strategically, then the future will be that the forms of doping used by athletes will become increasingly difficult, even more difficult to detect through future testing.”

As gene-doping and other new methods are developed and intended to artificially boost an athlete’s performance, methods other than testing become increasingly important. “I cannot foresee a day when anti-doping authorities will be involved in taking things like muscle biopsies in order to identify accurately who’s involved in doping,” he said. “We have to develop another way.”

Although this type of action is currently only taking place in Australia, similar methods or other alternatives are likely to be found around the world as this becomes a harder issue to deal with by testing alone. Werner Pitsch of Saarland University supports the need for more in depth testing on athletes as he claims that around 1% of all doping tests performed may produce a false positive or a false negative result.

Although he does not recommend the type of investigations performed by ASADA, he does recommend that athletes be tested repeatedly.  “Consistent positive results…are a really strong argument for a true positive doping case,” he argued.

 

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