WADA director general Howman says plasticizer levels are a valid consideration in anti-doping cases
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Monday, January 10, 2011

WADA director general Howman says plasticizer levels are a valid consideration in anti-doping cases

by Shane Stokes at 6:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Study’s publication in peer-reviewed journal moves it closer to introduction

David HowmanAs tests for plasticizers appear to move a step closer to being validated as a method of detecting blood transfusions, David Howman today reiterated that the scrutinising of plasticizer levels is a valid anti-doping tool.

"This method is validated in the food industry and has been used in that field for years,” the WADA director general told VeloNation. “Its use for anti-doping purposes has been considered for some time and evidence from it, among others, can be used before tribunals.”

Howman was responding to questions from VeloNation in connect to the publication of a study in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry on Christmas day. It was submitted by a dozen researchers from anti-doping laboratories in Cologne, Barcelona and at the Universities of Budapest, and drew a clear correlation between levels of the plasticizer DEHP and blood transfusions.

Researchers concluded that “significantly increased levels of secondary DEHP metabolites were found in urine samples of transfused patients, strongly indicating blood transfusion.”

Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is often part of the validation of methods for use under the World Anti Doping Agency code, which requires a strong standard of proof in order to stand up against challenge.

Howman confirmed to VeloNation that the appearance of papers in medical journals was an important step in approving new anti-doping methods. “Publication in a peer-review journal is one of the elements that WADA takes into account in the validation of a detection methodology,” he said.

“Review of the methodology by WADA's Science Committees, WADA's Science Department and external experts in the field, where relevant, as well as reproducibility by other anti-doping laboratories, can also be part of the process."

The news of the scientific paper’s publication was reported today in El Pais. The article quoted an unnamed source close to the scientific committee of WADA, who suggested that the push for approval could be linked to the Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

“The publication complies exactly with the description of what WADA calls a validation article, which is necessary so that a method can be used officially by laboratories as an anti-doping test,” they told El Pais. “I can’t help suspecting that this is related to the position of Contador.”

The Spanish rider tested positive for Clenbuterol during this year’s Tour. He insists the substance got into his system after he ate contaminated meat.

In October both the German journalist Hans Joachim Seppelt and the New York Times claimed that Contador’s urine levels of DEHP were multiples of the normal level.

The rider has himself denied any suggestion of doping, stating that he has never used banned substances and races clean. The Spanish cycling federation RFEC is currently assessing his case and is thought likely to make a decision next month.


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