US Anti-Doping Agency rolls out details of new programme

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) unveiled details of the voluntary pilot programme it hopes will improve the accuracy of doping tests.

The programme, first revealed last week by American decathlete Bryan Clay and sprinter Allyson Felix, will profile the body chemistry of 12 participating athletes using a series of blood and urine tests, and those measurements will be used as a baseline for subsequent tests.

A USADA news release on Friday said the number of athletes, who include cyclist Kristin Armstrong and swimmer Michael Phelps, will be limited during the programme’s initial phase.

USADA said the 12 volunteers will be part of its regular testing pool, as well.

“While good progress has been made, we must continually look for innovative, credible ways to strengthen our anti-doping programme,” said US Olympic committee spokesperson Darryl Seibel. “These measures will help make a good programme even better.”

The so-called longitudinal tests that are part of the pilot programme are believed to offer the most effective possibility of curtailing performance-enhancing drugs in the long term.

Instead of testing against fixed, arbitrary numbers, these tests would establish a baseline for each athlete’s body chemistry, then test against that baseline.

“It’s a much more powerful technique than simply taking one slice in time,” said scientist Don Catlin, an expert in longitudinal testing.

The news release also restated USADA’s testing plans for all American athletes before the Beijing Olympics. The programme includes an increased number of out-of-competition testing with no advance notice.

USADA said it will focus more heavily on “sports with the highest risk for potential doping”, and will use analytical methods to test for hard-to-detect EPO and human growth hormone.

The anti-doping agency also said every athlete who qualifies for the Olympics must be tested and declared negative within 120 days of the Olympics.
- Sapa-AP

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