Co-operation between WADA and pharmaceutical companies could boost anti-doping fight
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Co-operation between WADA and pharmaceutical companies could boost anti-doping fight

by VeloNation Press at 7:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Hopes that agreement will be reached soon

The World Anti-Doping Agency plans to step up the fight against doping through co-operation with major pharmaceutical companies who produce EPO and other performance-enhancing substances.

WADA is currently in talks with several big players in the industry about receiving early samples of new products. GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, and Merck are some of the those who it is hoped will formally agree to the new initiative. These manufacture products such as EPO and Aranesp, which have both been abused by cyclists and other athletes.

The cooperation would mean that it would be far easier for scientists to spot the use of these products, as it would give additional time for tests to be developed. Substances such as EPO and certain steroids are naturally produced by the body, and so the detection of these is dependant on identifying the subtle differences between the externally administered product and the body’s own levels.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently confirmed that that the third generation form of EPO called CERA is thought to have been used at the 2006 Winter Games; in fact, there are rumours that it leaked onto the black market as far back as 2004, three years before it was officially launched and four before it was first detected in competition during the 2008 Tour de France.

"We are very aware that [the suspected first abuse] was before the marketing of this substance,” said WADA’s scientific director Olivier Rabin to AFP. “This is where collaboration with the (industrial) pharmaceutical, but also Interpol, would mean we would be much more effective in detecting these molecules in development.”

While the manufacturers Roche did provide samples of the substance to WADA, thus enabling the surprise tests which caught out riders such as Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli, Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl, it is hoped that the process can be faster and wider-reaching in the future.

Bike Pure, a not-for profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness and support for the anti-doping fight, initially reported that the companies would insert a marker molecule in the products in question. WADA has however qualified that point to Velonation, saying that the plans don’t involve a marker as such, but rather a far earlier provision of the drug in question to anti-doping laboratories. That in turn would lead to earlier tests being developed, closing the window of opportunity which previously had existed for dopers.

The Pharmaceutical Industry Association (IFPMA) has long been aware of the black market involving athletes, but there was no official collaboration with WADA. Rabin is understandably upbeat about the thoughts of official co-operation. “The goal is that the industry would become active partners. They are the best placed to know the molecules of substances and be able to identify very early those with a doping potential,” he said.



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