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Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Wada close to 'Athlete Passports'

By Gordon Farquhar

Urine Samples
Further trials will take place at this year's World Athletics Championships

The World Anti-Doping Agency says it is very close to being able to implement a new Athlete Passport system.

It would provide testers with a lifelong "biological fingerprint" of competitors to compare drug-test samples against.

Any anomalies, such as raised haemoglobin levels, that might indicate EPO abuse could then be identified.

The Athlete Passport could help detect changes in the blood chemistry possibly missed by other methods.

The idea has been pioneered by the world governing bodies of cycling and skiing, where blood doping and the use of EPO has been a particular problem.

Wada president, John Fahey, said: "Potentially, it could be one of the most significant advances in the global fight against doping in sport."

Wada says it has been collecting blood samples for some time now as part of their preparations for the introduction of the Athlete Passport and that further trials will take place at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin this year.

The Athlete Passport information will be centrally stored along with all other whereabouts testing data on what is known as the Adams database.

Any abnormal findings will be passed on to an independent panel of experts, who will analyse the data to decide whether there is evidence of a doping violation.

Wada say it will also be of huge help in their target testing of suspected drug abusers and will provide another strong deterrent on top of out-of-competition testing programmes.

David Howman, Wada director general, said he was frustrated that the system, in development since 2006, had taken so long to come to fruition and is still not ready.

"It'll happen," he said. "I'm an optimist but sometimes I have to be a realist, so it will be months not weeks."

The problem has been getting the scientists to come up with a system that the lawyers will be happy to defend in court. That moment is now very close.

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see also
Wada steps up fight with football
24 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Wada stands defiant in doping row
17 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Wada hits back in doping rule row
06 Feb 09 |  Olympics
Anger grows over anti-doping code
04 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage

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