14 November 2018

WADA conference explores present and future of the Athlete Biological Passport

From 5-7 November 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) held its second Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) Symposium in Rome, Italy, which was graciously hosted by the Italian Federation of Sports Medicine (FMSI).

Under the theme ‘Shaping the present and future of the ABP’, the symposium convened 238 participants from 74 countries around the world. There were around 140 different organizations represented, which included Athlete Passport Management Units (APMUs), International Sports Federations, National and Regional Anti-Doping Organizations, WADA-accredited laboratories, as well as ABP experts who review passports.

The objective of the symposium was to bring together anti-doping stakeholders involved in all areas of ABP programs, including testing, administration, expert reviews and results management, in order to promote harmonization of practices and exchange of knowledge. There was also a wide-ranging discussion on the future development of the ABP as stakeholders considered how best to use and develop the program in the years to come.

Some major themes from the symposium included:

  1. That the ABP is working well approximately 150 athletes have now been sanctioned using the blood passport while 15 Anti-Doping Organizations now have experience with passport cases and are starting to see the benefits themselves. This is in addition to the hundreds of cases in which the ABP helped target traditional testing that resulted in adverse analytical findings.
  2. That we need to continue to work together to share information and successes – a need was clearly established for more collaboration, communication and trust among anti-doping stakeholders as well as a need to communicate the ABP successes further afield.
  3. That the ABP is not a tool used in isolation, and improved integration of the ABP with other facets of an anti-doping program such as testing and investigations can lead to improved outcomes.
  4. That as the ABP continues to evolve, the roles of individual stakeholders are becoming increasingly complex and specialized, highlighting the need for clearly defined roles, qualified personnel, and ongoing education programs.
  5. That the system needs to move faster – on the basis that athletes deserve to compete against clean athletes, there is a need to keep improving the system to make it more efficient.

WADA’s Senior Executive Director of Science and International Partnerships, Dr. Olivier Rabin, said: “The ABP program is constantly improving. It is becoming more sensitive to prohibited substance use, more efficient when it comes to targeting and longitudinal profiling and, increasingly, it is becoming a real deterrence to those who might be tempted to cheat.”

“That is not to say it is perfect. Clearly it is not yet being used to its full capacity and we are still learning ways to make it better. That was the underlying purpose of the ABP Symposium and other important meetings like this one. Above all, we must continue to build better cooperation between all relevant players, including ABP testing managers, APMUs, ABP experts and results management staff to ensure this program becomes an even more important and successful element in the fight against doping in sport.”

Among those present at the opening of the symposium were: Giovanni Malagò, President of the Italian Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee Member; Giovanni Leonardi, General Director for Research of the Italian Ministry of Health; General Leonardo Gallitelli, President of the Italian National Anti-Doping Organization; Guido Carpani, Head of Cabinet of the Italian Minister of Health; Fabio Pigozzi, President of the International Federation of Sports Medicine and WADA Foundation Board member; General Adelmo Lusi and Colonel Giovanni Roccia, from the Italian NAS – the Anti-Adulteration and Health Unit of the Italian police; and Maurizio Casasco, President of FMSI.