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WADA head proposes eliminating B sample in doping probes

By:
Cycling News
Published:
April 05, 2011, 9:21 BST,
Updated:
April 05, 2011, 17:17 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Director General of the WADA, David Howman

Director General of the WADA, David Howman

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Agency asking for information on Clenbuterol issues

The World Anti-Doping Agency wants to do away with the B samples in doping tests, calling them too expensive and generally not necessary. Others involved in anti-doping efforts have voiced their opposition to the idea.

"People can go to jail on the basis of one bodily sample being collected, and sport really is on its own in collecting two samples,” WADA general director David Howman said, according to the Associated Press. Howman is currently in London for an international sports conference.

"We spend half our time justifying costs," he said. "Here's a way in which you could save a lot of costs and not hurt any person's individual rights or opportunities. I don't know if there's a resistance or not but it would certainly make a lot of difference economically."

Currently athletes give one urine sample which is divided into two containers, the A and B samples. If the first, or A sample, is positive, the B sample can be tested to confirm the results.

Howman said that the B sample contradicts the A sample “almost zero” percent of the time, indicating that that may be due either a disintegration of the sample, or because of manipulation.

“Some athletes are putting stuff into their urine to degrade the sample,” he said, for example drinking up to two litres of water before giving the sample. “Sample dilution is one of the best ways for athletes to manipulate a test.”

Anti-doping scientist Don Catlin opposed the suggestion. "You're taking the right of appeal away from athletes, and I don't think that's good at all. It also handicaps (testing) labs a whole lot,” Catlin told the New York Daily News. “They're losing big time. It's cheaper, but they're going to have to really crunch. You only have so much urine to go around. I really have problems with (Howman's remarks)."

Howman countered those arguments, saying, ““There’s always going to be an ability to examine the residue of the sample you have in one bottle,” he said. “You just don’t have the same process.”

“There will be those that resist it for sure. There will be those that say it’s an athlete’s right, you cannot erode athletes’ rights. When you say athletes have better rights than normal human beings in relation to criminal law, then I think you’re starting to get out of proportion.”

No such change could go into effect until January 1, 2015.

“It is a topic that deserves wide consultation and wide consideration,” Howman said. “This is just a challenging idea. I’m not saying if I back it ‘yea’ or ‘nay.’ But it doesn’t seem to me to have too many downsides. I would hope that sanity and common sense would prevail.”

Clenbuterol

In light of the multitude of recent positive samples for Clenbuterol. Howman said that WADA had asked China and Mexico for help.

“We have written both to China and to Mexico to ask them to explain if there is any possibility of contaminated meat,” Howman said. “We have got some replies. We’re looking at those now.”

“The real big issue is this: Can steroids being fed to animals lead to positive test results?” Howman said. “That’s the question and it has to be examined a little more closely yet. We still have some distance to go before we say yea or nay.”

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