Athletes Can Now Be Caught By DNA Based Anti-Doping Test


The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could have a new way in detecting performance enhancer cheats.

By Admin –

A new DNA based anti-doping test has been developed in the fight against athletic performance enhancer cheats.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia recently published data confirming that blood doping can be detected by a DNA test. James Rupert, an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and colleague Irina Manokhina confirmed lead the study and released the promising results.

usada-testingCurrently, The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) looks at the athlete’s homologous panel. Blood is transferred from one subject and then proteins are analyzed for signs of manipulation. The DNA based method tests polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which amplifies the DNA to a high resolution, then giving the analysis a better look to see if cheating has occurred. DNA testing would also be more cost effective, faster and more accurate than current testing methods.

The PCR method would detect variations in the subject’s blood by primarily analyzing white blood cells. A genetic variance would suggest someone else’s blood has been transfused and blood doping was evident. According to Rupert, the DNA test is extremely accurate and can work even if 99.9% of the subjects’ white blood cells have been removed.

Blood dopers often use another person’s blood containing performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) or a higher red blood cell count (RBC). This would be advantageous in sporting events when endurance is a primary factor.

Rupert stated that some have ben concerned that DNA tests could store data, violating privacy rights of athletes. He then went on to add that the DNA test could be used as a pre-screen, prior to presently used anti-doping tests.

Blood doping was legal, much like anabolic steroid usage in sports, up until it was proved performance enhancers have an unfair advantage over their competitors.

In 1986 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlawed blood doping when the U.S. Olympic cycling team were caught using blood transfusions boosting RBC and giving them advantages over other athletes. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and USADA then followed suit and added the offence to the WADA Code.

Rupert also correctly pointed out that blood transfusions are dangerous. The blood can contain many diseases including HIV, Aids and Hepatitis. Due to these transfusions being done illegally, its realistic to assume some would not have been put through rigorous screening techniques.

Raising RBC is also dangerous and can cause the blood to thicken, cause coronary heart disease (CHD) and calcification plaque to build blocking the arteries and increasing the risks of major cardiac events.