BLOG: ASADA joins international pilot program

9 October 2019

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has joined an international pilot program to explore an alternative sample collection method – dried blood spot (DBS) collection.

ASADA, along with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), International Olympic Committee, International Testing Agency and anti-doping agencies in Switzerland, China, Japan, and the United States, signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding to learn more about the method and how it can be used for drug testing in sport. 

The pilot will develop guidelines for the collection, transport, analysis and storage of DBS collections as well as carrying out research that may be required to achieve that.

ASADA’s Chief Science Officer Naomi Speers says DBS is an exciting development in anti-doping testing.

“Dried blood testing has significant potential advantages,” Speers says.

“It has the potential to be a valuable additional tool in anti-doping testing and would complement urine and blood testing.”

Speers says for athletes, DBS collection will be quicker, simpler and less invasive.

“The collection involves a small skin prick and then the collection of a small volume of blood which is stored on a card or similar device,” she says.

“The quicker, simpler and less invasive collection will also be an advantage for anti-doping agencies along with simpler transport and storage requirements.

“It has the potential to enable much greater and more wide-spread anti-doping testing.”

Other advantages include it is less expensive to collect and transport compared with current forms and there may be benefits with regards to sample stability.

WADA’s Senior Executive Director, Sciences and International Partnerships Dr. Olivier Rabin says dried blood testing may be “a major breakthrough” in anti-doping testing capacity. 

“There is a real sense among the participants in this project that DBS could be a game-changer for the anti-doping community and it is very encouraging how they are working collectively on this, optimising time and resources, to validate this new tool in the overall anti-doping arsenal.”

The goal is to develop the test in time for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, while considering what, if any, aspects of the test could be implemented for Tokyo Olympics next year.