Blood and urine samples taken from athletes should be stored for a period of 10 years, says a consensus statement of international anti-doping bodies that was published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Anti-doping bodies have remarked that this extended duration will be helpful to spot signs of doping and enable technology to catch up with substances that presently evade detection. It was also recommended that there should be wider use of biological passports to reveal even tiny changes made to the unique genetic blueprint of an individual by doping substances and methods without the requirement of identifying the presence of the substance itself, when regularly monitored.
Under the 'freeze and store' initiative, players competing in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil will be among the first athletes to be subjected to this extensive form of drug testing. It will be helpful in providing opportunities to retrospectively analyze samples over the course of a sporting career and conduct biological profiling. These suggestions were part of a set of agreed by 24 international bodies to implement the World Anti-Doping Code 2015, which is bound to notice a dramatic shift in how testers identify doping athletes using sophisticated techniques.
In late November last year, representatives from FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and accredited anti-doping laboratories met at FIFA's headquarters in Switzerland to evaluate the latest scientific and medical evidence on doping and agree on priorities for action.
Professor Jiri Dvorak, FIFA Chief Medical Officer, explained that this meeting was prompted by the realization that current anti-doping strategies were being outpaced by scientific advances in performance enhancing substances and the ingenuity of sports cheats. Dvorak remarked the fight against doping has intensified over the past 10 to 15 years, but the increase in simple sampling procedures has not stopped some athletes from continuing to cheat.
The FIFA Chief Medical Officer added greater emphasis needs to be given to deterrents and prevention, the regular gathering of forensic intelligence, and collaboration between all the interested parties in sport, medicine, and science. Professor Dvorak concluded by saying that FIFA started the biological passport initiative that would not be economical but it will be much more effective over the long term if widely applied.
The Consensus Statement says the deterrent effect of delayed testing with newly devised analytical methods is substantial, which suggests that it should be possible in the future to detect the way in which doping may leave a "molecular signature" on individual cells. It was further added that testing programs also need to take account of the training periods of individual sports and the degree to which doping has become a normal part of the culture. The Statement also urged tailoring the assessment of doping risk to the demands of the individual sport. The Statement added all sports organizations should consistently emphasize that drug-taking behavior is fundamentally contrary to the principles and precepts of sport -- that is, against the spirit of the sport.
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