Athlete Biological Passport

Which sports/athletes will be subject to the athlete biological passport?

Every national-level Irish athlete and every sport, in accordance with the Irish Anti-Doping Rules, could be blood tested. However, Sport Ireland will begin implementation of the athlete biological passport by focusing on endurance sports and power sports.

What is the Athlete Biological Passport?

The biological passport is an amalgamation of results of anti-doping tests carried out on an athlete. The athlete biological passport contains the following information:
1. Test results (urine and blood)
2. The athlete's haematological profile over time (based on blood testing)

Blood samples are taken over time. The athlete's haematological parameters are analysed and their haematological profile is drawn up. The profiles are interpreted using a computer program that takes into account factors that may affect the blood parameters and provides an indication of whether there is normal variation or the variation may be as a result of blood doping.

A full blood count can be taken on the samples with the following markers currently being considered for the blood profile:

  • HCT: Haematocrit
  • HGB: Haemoglobin
  • RBC: Red blood cells count
  • RET%: The percentage of reticulocyte
  • RET#: Reticulocytes count
  • MCV: Mean corpuscular volume
  • MCH: Mean corpuscular haemoglobin
  • MCHC: Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration
  • OFF-hr Score: Index of stimulation Blood profile score

3. The athlete's steroid profile over time (based on urine testing)
Urine samples are taken over time and the athlete's level of steroids in their urine is analysed and their steroid profile is established.
The haematological profile can detect blood manipulation (for example whether EPO has been taken), whereas the steroid profile can identify whether exogenous steroids have been taken (for example testosterone). Individual haematological and steroid profiles allow the permanent monitoring of variations in an athlete's biological parameters. Abnormal variations can be considered as proof of doping, even if no limit has been exceeded. Controlled medical doping with fixed limits then becomes too risky for the cheat.

Why am I sometimes required to rest for 2 hours before a blood sample can be taken for the Athlete Biological Passport?

There is a WADA requirement that athletes are in a physiological "steady state" at the time of sample collection and therefore an athlete cannot have taken part in strenuous exercise in the last two hours before the collected of the blood sample. The Council will generally plan blood tests to be completed to avoid long waiting periods; therefore it is very important that athletes keep their training details up to date through the online whereabouts system.

How could I be sanctioned under the Athlete Biological Passport?

The biological passport requires a rigorous protocol, the stages of which are detailed below.
Each sample is analysed by a laboratory accredited by WADA. The WADA statistical model, developed by the Lausanne Laboratory, is then applied to the results of the analyses to determine whether the profiles can be considered abnormal. Using this model, it is possible to if there any issues of concern and these details are then passed to the expert group.

Expert Group
Blood profiles will be submitted for interpretation to a group of experts made up of specialists in the analysis of blood parameters for anti-doping purposes. Experts then recommend to Sport Ireland what action should be taken, for example opening disciplinary proceedings for a possible anti-doping rule violation.
Based on the experts' opinions, Sport Ireland may decide to open disciplinary proceedings which
may lead to the sanctions stipulated by the World Anti-Doping Code.

Data Protection with regard to the Athlete Biological Passport

Sport Ireland will store biological passport profiles electronically. We will only be sharing this information with our expert panel in accordance with the WADA requirements, and in special cases, with international sport federations who also operate in accordance with the ABP program and WADA Privacy Standards. We will not be sharing the profiles with National Governing Bodies
The confidentiality of this data will be handled in the exact same way as confidential data from any other anti-doping test or therapeutic use exemption application.

Do you have additional questions or concerns?
To discuss additional questions or concerns regarding the Irish Sports Council blood testing programmes, please contact Siobhan Leonard tel: 00353 1 8608829 or sleonard@sportireland.ie

Downloads:

ABP - Athlete Biological Passport