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WADA releases guidelines for Athlete Biological Passport program

Following a recent meeting of its Executive Committee and Foundation Board in Stockholm, Sweden, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) approved and released operating guidelines for the Athlete Biological Passport aimed at improving the implementation of the program in addition to an announcement that the organisation would receive a minor funding boost in 2010.

"WADA's Athlete Biological Passport Operating Guidelines provide 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," the organisation said via a press statement.

"In addition, the document includes mandatory requirements for collection, transportation, analysis, and results management of blood samples, which anti-doping organisations 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.

With the legality and scientific principles of the Athlete Biological Passport questioned in some quarters of the cycling community, WADA has moved to strengthen the credentials of the program through the release of these guidelines. According to the organisation, this "allows for a harmonisation 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 organisation may currently operate. Rather, WADA's Athlete Biological Passport Model is intended to equip anti-doping organisations with a robust and harmonised 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."

WADA Director General David Howman said, "The Athlete Biological Passport adds a powerful new tool to support the fight against doping. 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."

Meanwhile, WADA President John Fahey stressed the need for education of future generations of athletes, the use of smarter testing programs and a co-ordinated approach utilising law enforcement agencies to ensure doping is hit at the source. "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," said Fahey.

"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," he added. Additionally, WADA announced that it would receive a four percent increase in funding for 2010, with US$25.9 million allocated for the agency's operations next year.

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