The addition of a gene expression test may help uncover athletes who've used performance-enhancing drugs, New Scientist reports.
A recent report leaked from the International Association of Athletics Federation suggests that some 800 out of 5,000 blood tests obtained from athletes could have had dodgy results and that nearly 150 Olympic or World Championship medal could hang in the balance, it notes.
The IAAF introduced the biological passport a few years ago that not only tracks the presence of drugs or their metabolites in athletes' blood, but also records other baseline measurements with the idea that a sudden change could be indicative of doping, according to New Scientist.
The University of Brighton's Yannis Pitsiladis, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee's Medical and Scientific Commission, tells the New Scientist that the biological passport could be improved by the addition of new tests. He is, for example, working on developing a test to monitor for the gene expression changes that occur in response to the presence of EPO or other performance-enhancing drugs in someone's system.
Though that might help catch dopers — at least until they learn how to evade the test — usual results have to be followed up on and the University of Stirling's Paul Dimeo says that doesn't always occur in athletics.