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The future of doping in cycling

October 26th, 2007 by Janus Sejersen Laursen and Alexander Borch Nielsen · No Comments

By Alexander Nielsen and Janus Laursen

The latest massive scandals of this summer’s Tour de France have once again been a reminder of the major doping use problems in sports. While the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, has been working to introduce a personal register on blood values for each athlete, a so-called biological passport, within the world of athletics, skiing, skating and cycling in 2009 the international cycling union, UCI, has been forced to introduce the passport from 2008.
Finn Mikkelsen, chief secretary of Anti-doping Danmark explains:
- The ideas about the biological passport have existed between WADA and the four international unions since year 2000. The unions have experimented with blood measuring and are now gathered around a consensus model of test parameters that should be ready in 2009. But the UCI couldn’t wait that long and will use the biological passport from next year.

A preventive effect
At this moment it is unclear if the future use of biological passports will provide security against doping use.
- If you begin testing the young athletes before they even think of using doping the biological passport can be used to reveal variations if they’ll ever use doping. But the passport can also be used to pin out variations from race to race, says Finn Mikkelsen.
He doesn’t believe that the introduction of the biological passport will completely eradicate doping in the future but will have a preventive effect.

Crucial point of reference
Carsten Lundby is a senior scientist at The Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre. He is sceptical about the new biological passport.
- I don’t think it will wipe out doping. If you have been taking EPO and therefore have a high exit value that is what you measure when you make the passport. It means that the point of reference is crucial, says Carsten Lundby.
In other words this means that if a person is doped when he or she is tested for the first time the measured blood values will be regarded as the normal.
- The biological passport is not the best idea in the world but I can’t figure out a better one, Carsten Lundby adds.

Drugs in the pipeline
Regarding future doping medicaments they are being developed right now according to professor Verner Møller from the Center for Idræt (Centre for Sports) at Aarhus University.
- I know there is a line of EPO-like drugs in the pipeline and it will be extremely expensive to test for each of these potential doping drugs. If you test for one specific drug the athletes will simply use one of the other types and so on, says Verner Møller.
Carsten Lundby says:
- For instance a prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor will boost the production of EPO.
It is a drug that will prevent the undermining of the factor that controls the EPO production. That way the body will produce more EPO and it is impossible to trace at present, he says.
Carsten Lundby is not sure if any athletes are using it yet but it could definitely be the future answer to EPO.
- In theory I could dope a racing cyclist with it this day, he states.
Both Verner Møller and Carsten Lundby believe that we are going to see genetic doping types in the future.
- If you use genetic doping before you reach your peak performance, it can’t be revealed. But we are still years from that, says Verner Møller.

The Biological passport:
A biological passport is a medical profile where the rider’s
different blood values are listed every time he is being tested.
This way it is possible to compare values from test to
test and thereby discover abnormal deflections.

Join the debate:
Who do
you think will win the future battle in sports - the doping users or the doping hunters?

Tags: Theme: Anti-doping

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