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WADA may use hair samples for future anti-doping testing

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Newly elected WADA president Australian John Fahey (left) shakes hands with outgoing president Dick Pound

Newly elected WADA president Australian John Fahey (left) shakes hands with outgoing president Dick Pound
(Image credit: AFP)
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A visit to doping controls for stage 17 runner-up Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)

A visit to doping controls for stage 17 runner-up Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lance Armstrong liked to control the media

Lance Armstrong liked to control the media
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Riders have long been used to giving blood and urine samples when the testers come to visit, but they may soon have to donate some hair,  too.

Sir Craig Reedie, the new president of the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA], believes that a £6 million International Olympic Committee (IOC) fund will allow the agency to look at new ways of catching dopers, including the use of hair samples.

"We test in the main blood and urine, but now we will look at different approaches, such as can we use a lock of hair?” said Reedie. "This new fund from the IOC will create tremendous opportunities for advances in anti-doping and allow our scientists to look at alternative approaches to sample testing for banned substances.”

Some drugs can be detected in hair longer than they can in blood and urine, and if this method of testing is to be introduced, it could catch more drug cheats. While excited about the possible development, Reedie says it would be “naïve” to think that the issue of doping would disappear.

WADA have recently introduced a number of new initiatives, such as the steriod passport - in addition to the blood passport - and four-year bans for first-time doping offences.

Reedie spoke of the Lance Armstrong scandal and said that cycling should leave the story behind. “It has been a sensational story, but I think we should move on. There is much more to be done, and many more battles to be fought. Most of it happened more than 10 years ago, and the UCI is now in a much better place.”

The Briton will begin his new position on January 1. He takes over from John Fahey, who stood down in November.