Mexican authorities are keen to eradicate the use of banned substances by athletes and the latest example is the implementation of a comprehensive policy that includes joint work with federal agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
In June last year, Mexico’s National Laboratory for the Prevention and Control of Doping, which is managed by the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports (CONADE), received accreditation from the World Anti-Doping Agency as a “World Class” laboratory. In Latin America, the CONADE laboratory is the third laboratory to receive this certification, together with the Anti-Doping Laboratory of the National Institute of Sports in Havana, Cuba, and the Doping Control Laboratory in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2013, CONADE carried out 2,000 tests on Mexican athletes.
Dr. Juan Manuel Herrera Navarro, CONADE’s director of Medicine and Applied Sciences, said we have the ability to detect all of the banned substances contained in WADA’s official list through urine or blood tests and can even identify cases of doping through blood transfusions, human growth hormone (HGH) or erythropoietin (EPO). Human growth hormone is used by athletes to increase muscle mass and body strength, while EPO is administered by athletes, especially cyclists and marathon runners, to produce more red blood cells and improve muscle endurance and aerobic capacity.
Dr. Juan said the goal of CONADE for 2014 is to reach 3,000 tests, given that every three months we will receive a batch of international samples from the World Anti-Doping Agency. In July last year, CONADE detected two players from Liga MX who had tested positive for Clenbuterol, a drug used to treat patients with asthma and used by athletes to increase muscle mass and get lean. The players were however exonerated after it was determined that the positive doping results were the product of having consumed contaminated meat and there was no wrongdoing and the players had not committed any negligence in the case.
CONADE, since 2011, has been working with the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Health Risks (COFEPRIS) for detecting the passage of banned substances throughout Mexico. Rocío Alatorre, COFEPRIS’ commissioner of Evidence and Risk Management, said we are conducting inspections at customs offices and border crossings to prevent the entry of contraband formulas that could be used in sports doping. He added we also are analyzing food and food supplements for ensuring that they are not contaminated and don’t contain banned substances. COFEPRIS and CONADE between 2011 and 2013 placed 236 food and nutritional supplements on the “not recommended for use” list of products, and prohibited their sale because they contained banned substances. Dr. Carlos Vera Velasco, a sports doping expert at Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City, said we will be able to reduce the use and consumption of these types of products, which circulate unregulated in gyms and amateur clubs and cause irreparable health damage, by following these measures.
Dr. Roberto Rodríguez Nava, the head of Medical Services with the Mexican soccer team Club Universidad Nacional, known as Pumas, remarked having a certified laboratory for professional sports such as soccer, represents greater safety and security for the players and the controls are going to stay in Mexico and we will no longer have to send the samples abroad, so it gives us greater certainty and speed in terms of results.