Soon, a "biological passport" to catch sports cheats

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London, December 12 (ANI): The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has released guidelines on the long-awaited "athlete biological passport", a way to spot cheats by monitoring them for suspicious changes in normal physiology.

According to a report in New Scientist, the passport, which consists of a regularly updated record of blood measurements for each athlete, was first suggested in 2002 and is already being piloted by several sports federations, including the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The release of the guidelines, which specify for the first time what measurements should be documented in the passport, may speed its uptake by many more.

"These guidelines are to help sporting federations everywhere introduce biological passports," said Olaf Schumacher, a WADA adviser at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

As with any new method, there is the possibility of mistakenly accusing athletes who have done nothing wrong, or missing those who have.

The challenge for WADA is to show the passports limit the likelihood of this.

"We must protect clean athletes, and make sure we don't incriminate them through false positives," said Schumacher.

The agency is hoping for widespread adoption of the passports on a trial basis because of their potential power.

Crucially, biological passports have the ability to detect signs of doping without identifying specific substances, which can be elusive.

They might also detect doping that doesn't involve illegal substances but produces measurable effects on the body, such as blood transfusions or gene doping.

"Every reading is retained, so the passport never forgets," said Schumacher. (ANI)

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