Home Health Working together to beat the scourge of doping in sport

Working together to beat the scourge of doping in sport

6 September 2016

Well away from public view, scientists at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics are working 24/7 at the games’ official laboratory in the frontline battle against drug cheats.

It’s bad when sport appears to be tainted by drugs –and that’s what we are fighting against. Our goal is to deter drug misuse

Professor David Cowan, Director, King’s Drug Control Centre

With integrity key to the Olympic spirit and scrutiny at a high, a world-class anti-doping programme is essential.

King’s Drug Control Centre (DCC) led the London 2012 operations and assisted with many others including the Beijing 2008 Games. Now, at Rio 2016 it is working closely with partner Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and its Laboratório Brasileiro de Controle de Dopagem (LBCD) to share knowledge and ensure testing is a success.

A lab typically oversees 5,000-10,000 samples per year but during the Games period a World Anti-Doping Associated (WADA)-accredited lab will see a scale-up of activity of around 10 times that number in an intense period.

DCC Director Professor David Cowan said anti-doping technology is advancing almost every month.

‘Because samples are stored now for up to 10 years, we can go back retrospectively and look at those samples using the new methodologies. If you’re taking a drug today we may not catch you today but in 10 years’ time- we may catch you then.

‘I think scrutiny is excellent. It’s bad when sport appears to be tainted by drugs –and that’s what we are fighting against. Our goal is to deter drug misuse.’

The Rio lab isn’t just a laboratory, but is an academic space for professional excellence and Professor Francisco Radler de Aquino Neto, Head of the LBCD, said it has led to close collaboration and sharing between the two universities.

‘Once the Games are finished however, we will be collaborating not only on anti-doping issues, but on the many R&D opportunities that we have come across while interacting during this Games preparation period,’ he said.

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