The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) recently met to announce the Prohibited Substances list for 2012 and to approve further scientific research and ethical reviews.
The biggest news to come from this Executive Committee meeting was the WADA’s new emphasis on increased testing from blood samples. In 2010, only 4% of all doping tests were examined from blood samples and most of these were for the biological passport program (used in cycling and swimming). The overwhelming majority of doping tests were done using urine samples. Only blood samples can detect the use of drugs such as Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and illegal blood transfusions. Had it not been for Australian customs officials who found the vials of HGH in his luggage at the airport, Wayne Odesnik could have escaped uncaught for his use of HGH.
The WADA now advises all Anti-Doping Organizations to ensure that at least 10% of all tests be conducted using blood samples.
How would this affect anti-doping efforts in the tennis world? For the female tennis players, in 2010 a total of 72 out of 892 drug tests (both in- and out-of-competition) were taken from blood samples. For the men, a total of 78 out of 1,183 tests were taken from blood samples. This translates to a 8.1% and 6.6% blood-sampling rate for the female and male tennis players, respectively. This is a higher rate than the 4% average for all sports combined, although it still falls short of the new directive for 10%.
Given the new WADA directive, we can expect the number of blood tests completed on tennis athletes to increase in 2012.