Incoming WADA president Reedie says hair sample analysis could be added to anti-doping testing
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Incoming WADA president Reedie says hair sample analysis could be added to anti-doping testing

by Shane Stokes at 10:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Method would greatly increase window of detection

WADAPreviously reliant on urine or blood samples, WADA’s arsenal against doping in sport could be expanded in the future to potentially include hair analysis.

Sir Craig Reedie, the incoming WADA president, said that a new £6 million fund from the IOC would be used to move things forward, in terms of improving the detection methods.

“Now we will look at different approaches such as, can we use a lock of hair?” Reedie said, according to the BBC. “This new fund from the IOC will create tremendous opportunities for advances in anti-doping and allow our scientists to look at alternative approaches to sample testing for banned substances.”

Unlike blood and urine samples, which can be quite limited in terms of the length of time a substance can be detected, hair can hold traces for longer. This would in theory expand the window doping agents can be identified in, and also boost the chances of detection.

“This is a really exciting development and means we can look at approaches that in the past have been unaffordable,” he said.

Hair sample testing was carried out during the 1998 Tour de France. While this was not part of the usual testing armoury, it was able to be done as the French police had their own standards and methods outside normal sporting regulations. They were investigating the Festina Affair and arrested a number of riders.

Hair testing has been used for many years by employers or others to detect recreational drug use.

According to Omega Laboratories, the first ISO/IEC accredited hair drug testing laboratory in the United States, such testing is far more effective at picking up traces of certain substances. While it deals with different drugs than the WADA tests would screen for, the principle – and benefits – remain the same.

“Cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates and PCP are rapidly excreted and usually undetectable in urine 72 hours after use,” the company states on its website. “The detection period for hair is limited only by the length of the hair sample and is approximately 90 days for a standard test.

“Additional advantages include non-intrusive collection procedures.

“The combination of an increased window of detection and resistance to evasion makes hair testing far more effective than urinalysis in effectively identifying drug users.”

For those using banned substances, shaving head hair will not be sufficient to sidestep detection. The analysis can be performed on any body hair, including eyebrows.

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