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WADA Approves Harmonized Protocols and Guidelines for Athlete Biological Passport

WADA Approves Harmonized Protocols and Guidelines for Athlete Biological Passport

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) made significant advances in strengthening the global fight against doping through additional strategies during the Agency’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board Meetings held on December 1-2 in Stockholm, Sweden.

“As WADA is celebrating its tenth anniversary, I am pleased that all parties involved in the fight against doping in sport recognized the need to take further measures in protecting the health of athletes and the integrity of sport worldwide,” said WADA’s President John Fahey. “To succeed in our common quest to rid sport of doping, we must continue to act with determination and innovation. Discussions during these two days indicated very clearly that all parties are committed to further strengthening anti-doping activities in order to offer clean athletes a platform to pursue athletic excellence.”

Athlete Biological Passport

WADA’s Executive Committee approved harmonized protocols and operating guidelines for the Athlete Biological Passport. These protocols and guidelines, which take effect immediately, will provide anti-doping organizations worldwide with a robust and harmonized framework to implement this promising strategy in their fight against doping in sport.

The fundamental principle of the Athlete Biological Passport is based on the monitoring of an athlete’s biological variables over time to facilitate indirect detection of doping on a longitudinal basis, rather than on the traditional direct detection of doping. Abnormal variations can lead to the pursuit of anti-doping rule violations or to targeted testing when appropriate.

“The Athlete Biological Passport adds a powerful new tool to support the fight against doping,” said WADA’s Director General David Howman. “Coupled with existing and future strategies, we are confident that this model will make any prohibited preparation far harder to implement by those athletes who may still take the risk to cheat. We know that the effects of drugs remain detectable longer in the body than the substances themselves. The Athlete Biological Passport will allow the anti-doping community to exploit this reality through an increasingly biological and global approach, similar to that used in forensic science.”

As the international independent organization responsible for coordinating and monitoring the global fight against doping in sport, WADA has taken the lead in the development of the Athlete Biological Passport concept starting in 2002. Following extensive expert and stakeholder consultation, WADA drafted and fine-tuned operating guidelines, as well as harmonized protocols for collection, transportation and analysis, and results management of blood samples.

The resulting document – WADA’s Athlete Biological Passport Operating Guidelines – provides an overview of the scientific principles behind the blood module of the Athlete Biological Passport and provides practical advice on the implementation of such a program. In addition, the document includes mandatory requirements for collection, transportation, analysis, and results management of blood samples, which anti-doping organizations wishing to adopt WADA’s model will have to follow in order to ensure consistency of application and to comply with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) and the related International Standards. These mandatory technical documents will be incorporated into WADA’s International Standard for Testing and International Standard for Laboratories.

The establishment of the Athlete Biological Passport Operating Guidelines allows for a harmonization in the results of monitored variables within the Athlete Biological Passport, ensuring both legal and scientific fortitude. WADA’s Athlete Biological Passport concept does not undermine the validity or efficacy of any existing longitudinal profiling program that an anti-doping organization may currently operate. Rather, WADA’s Athlete Biological Passport Model is intended to equip anti-doping organizations with a robust and harmonized framework for pursuing anti-doping rule violations in accordance with Article 2.2. of the Code (Use or Attempted Use by an Athlete of a Prohibited Substance or a Prohibited Method) and support intelligent, targeted testing.

“We now have a very strong model in place,” said David Howman. “We are looking forward to its implementation by anti-doping organizations on a broad scale in the coming months and years, and we will continue to further develop the Passport by working on an endocrine module that includes steroid profiling.”

The Athlete Biological Passport Operating Guidelines and a Q&A on the Athlete Biological Passport can be consulted by clicking here.

Strategies for the Future

The Stockholm Meetings were also an opportunity for WADA’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board Members to discuss a number of strategies for the future of the fight against doping, while recognizing the significant progress achieved under WADA’s leadership.

In his speech at the celebratory dinner jointly hosted by WADA and the Swedish Government on December 1, in the presence of their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden, WADA’s President cautioned against any complacency and highlighted some of the priorities for the future.

“At the forefront of our efforts must be a values-based education program,” Mr Fahey said. “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders and we must instil an indelible mindset on today’s youth that will never allow them to succumb to using health-destroying and life-destroying drugs.

“Going forward, we must focus on smarter testing programs. The last decade has taught us that quality testing is more effective than quantity testing. Quality testing comes from intelligence gathering – much of which lies with the law enforcement agencies of the world. We must cooperate with such agencies and use our government partners to change and reform national laws to eliminate manufacturing and trafficking across borders and use the criminal codes of nations to effectively deal with the suppliers.

“We must use our government partners to embed our messages in the educational curricula of our schools. And we must continue to recognize the value of focussed scientific research.”

Social Science Research

In other matters, the Executive Committee approved a number of social science research projects for funding. WADA’s Social Science Research Program, launched in 2005, aims to support the design of preventive anti-doping education programs using an evidence-based approach.

“It is essential that WADA’s anti-doping programs and initiatives be based on scientific knowledge and evidence,” said WADA’s Director General David Howman. “Understanding the behavioural aspects and value judgments behind doping will help us to develop and disseminate strong values-based anti-doping education programs.”

WADA received 30 applications from 21 countries for its Social Science Research Program this year and will commit US$145,000 to the selected projects. The Executive Committee approved an additional US$50,000 for targeted research in 2010.


The Foundation Board approved US$25.9 million for the Agency’s 2010 budget, representing a minor increase of 4% over the 2009 budget. This minor increase is the result of the enhancement of a number of activities, including WADA’s added responsibilities under the Code, such as Code monitoring and appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

With regard to funding, the Agency has now received 99% of its 2009 budget (US$24.9 million). WADA’s funding is provided equally by governments of the world and by the sport movement. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), on behalf of the Olympic Movement, matches dollar for dollar contributions made by governments.