The ITA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and is part of the steering committee for the project. The objective is to develop DBS testing for routine implementation in time for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing. An additional goal is to consider what aspects of DBS testing could already potentially be implemented for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The DBS steering committee, in which the ITA is represented by its Head of Science & Medical Dr Neil Robinson, is chaired by WADA and includes representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The committee has appointed two working groups, one dealing with collection and transport, and the other focused on analysis and storage.
A further objective of the project is to develop guidelines for the collection, transport, analysis and storage of DBS as well as to carry out research that may be required to achieve harmonization of practice in the anti-doping context.
Potential advantages of DBS include:
• Simplification of sample collection (e.g. a finger prick)
• Less invasive than current methods of taking urine or blood samples so better for the athlete experience
• The need for only a very small volume of blood for the test (depending on the type of analysis)
• Less expensive to collect and transport DBS samples compared with current methods
• Less space needed to store the samples
• Potential benefits with regards to sample stability (less degradation)
All these advantages could allow testing authorities to target more athletes and collect more samples, including in some geographically remote areas. Easier to carry out, more effective and cheaper, DBS could be a major breakthrough in global anti-doping testing capacity.
“One of ITA’s missions is to harmonize testing across the world and to make it more effective”, states Dr Robinson. “If we are able through this project to achieve that and to make the sample collection process less invasive for athletes, the DBS initiative will be a success. The ITA is honoured to be part of the steering committee and we are looking forward to this important partnership with other key organizations.”
WADA Senior Executive Director, Sciences and International Partnerships, Dr. Olivier Rabin said: “There is a real sense among project participants that DBS could be a game-changer for the anti-doping community. It is very encouraging how we are all working together on this project, optimizing time and resources, to validate this new element within the overall anti-doping toolbox. WADA is pleased to be able to lead this collective work and make its resources available to serve the team involved in this project.”