Athlete biological passport

In addition to the regular urine and blood tests, Drug Free Sport NZ also operates an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme.

This involves the analysis of a series of samples to monitor certain biomarkers which over time can reveal the effects of doping, as opposed to a test to identify a specific substance or method. Routine biological parameters such as haemoglobin, or testosterone are measured, which allows unusual variations to be detected. 

Monitoring variables in this way can provide Drug Free Sport NZ with information which could lead to further investigation and targeted testing.

The ABP is made up of two modules; the haematological and the steroidal module. They are designed to monitor athletes over time, comparing recent test results to their own biological profile. The Haematological module monitors an athletes blood components and is effective at indicating use of erythropoietin/EPO or blood transfusions. The steroidal module monitors an athletes natural steroid production and can identify when prohibited substances are introduced.

The ABP enables the detection of doping that would normally be undetectable by normal laboratory analysis.  This testing helps us to protect clean athletes, and promote clean sport.

Only selected samples are analysed in this way.

  • Can the ABP replace traditional anti-doping testing?

The ABP is one tool in a kit of intelligent anti-doping practices meant to deter and detect the use of prohibited substances in sport. It is designed to be used in combination with traditional anti-doping testing of detecting prohibited substances or their metabolites in an athlete’s blood or urine sample.

The ABP examines an athlete’s biomarkers over time to note any physiological effects due to prohibited substances. The physiological effects approach of the ABP allows antidoping agencies to identify new or modified substances or designer drugs being misused by athletes.

  • Will the volume of blood collected for testing affect my performance?

The amount of blood withdrawal needed for ABP testing will not have any effect on athletic performance. On average, the total volume of blood collected for testing is relatively small, less than two tablespoons (~15mL).

The hematological passport only requires a small volume as the aim is to analyze the blood components within the sample. These components include hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells, reticulocytes, mean corpuscular volume, and more. The samples' blood components are then compared against previous collections to develop a passport for each athlete.

Our Blood Collection Officers (BCOs) are trained and experienced phlebotomists making the sample collection process as quick and painless as possible.

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