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Thursday 14, Mar 2013

  Tennis’s Biological Passport Idea Criticized By Anti-Doping Expert

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Tennis’s Biological Passport Idea Criticized By Anti-Doping Expert

Don Catlin, considered to be one of the founders of modern drug-testing and one of the sport’s most respected anti-doping experts, has issued a damning indictment of attempts by tennis to step up its drug testing program and questioned whether it has the money or the desire to make it work.

Last week, tennis officials announced that tennis is to adopt the athlete biological passport that effectively tests for the likely existence of drugs rather than for specific substances. Catlin remarked he would tell them not to bother and they are better off to increase the number of tests they do rather than spend it all on the passport. The anti-doping expert added that doubling or tripling urine tests would be of more value than starting a passport because you need such a long lead-in and you need data over four or five years. The man behind the renowned UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory believes the sport is reacting to pressure rather than tackling the big problems for the right reasons.

Now president and chief executive officer of Anti-Doping Research, a company in Los Angeles, Catlin added that it is always hard to be critical of someone when they’re trying to do something that’s worthwhile and tennis would have done better if it was able to start with the top 100 male players and then test them five times a year but tennis cannot afford to do that or does not want to.

The athlete biological passport creates individual blood profiles instead of testing for specific, performance enhancing drugs and a doping case may be opened if athletes deviate from set parameters over time. Tennis has already tested for erythropoietin through urine and human growth hormone through blood.

In signing up to the passport, the funding partners in the program: the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association, and four grand slam events, agreed to increase their contributions, lifting the overall budget to an estimated $3.5m. However, Catlin remarked he thought the budget was still way too low.

The International Tennis Federation defended the decision to adopt the passport in a statement and said the Anti-Doping Working Group has identified the introduction of biological passports as a key enhancement of the detection and deterrence of doping under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and the implementation of the passport in accordance with Wada’s [the World Anti-Doping Agency] recommendations, including the required budget, is now being discussed by the four parties in the program.

Things will barely change unless tennis finds significantly more money to do enough tests, Catlin said and added tennis is way behind other sports, in my opinion and doping is never going to go away and there needs to be independent testing.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer applauded the announcement that tennis will introduce biological passports for players and urged the sport to make the ATP Tour “as clean as it possibly can be” with a broad approach. The 17-time grand slam winner Federer said he thinks tennis has done a good job of trying everything to be as clean as possible but we are entering a new era.

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Monday 10, Aug 2009

  How Tetrahydrogestrinone was discovered

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How Tetrahydrogestrinone was discoveredTetrahydrogestrinone (THG) is often referred to as “The Clear”. It is an anabolic steroid developed by Patrick Arnold for Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO), an American nutritional supplement company. The drug has great affinity to the androgen and progesterone receptors but not the estrogen receptor.

Side effects of THG include infertility in both genders; acne; hirsutism; and sometimes, immunosuppression.

Before its discovery, it is considered the drug of choice by many athletes due to its “invisible” effects in the world of sports. Some of the athletes who admitted to using it were Marion Jones, the sprinter and British athlete Dwain Chambers.

It was first discovered in June 2003, when a spent syringe containing undetectable anabolic steroid was anonymously provided to the United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA). The research team was led by Dr. Don Catlin, MD, the then-director of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab.

Dr. Catlin and associates were able to synthesize a compound, which matched the unknown substance in the syringe. They then proceed to develop a new detection test for this particular compound, which they named as tetrahydrogestrinone.

At present, THG is detectable in the urine after both intravenous and intramuscular administration. Dr. Catlin was later named as Sportsman of the Year by the Chicago tribune.

Thursday 11, Dec 2008

  Don Catlin and son hired to oversee US cycling teams anti-doping programs

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Tour_De_France_steroidsDon Catlin and his son Oliver are now at the helm of two U.S.-based cycling teams anti-doping programs, according to ESPN.

Pro cycling teams Columbia and Garmin-Slipstream jointly announced on Monday that they had inked a contract with the Anti-Doping Sciences Institute in Los Angeles. ADSI is run by the Catlins.

Both teams’ testing programs were formerly conducted by the Agency for Cycling Ethics which went into the red. The ADSI program will continue where ACE had left off, interpreting samples already in the database.

Garmin and Columbia also received a proposal from Danish anti-doping researcher Rasmus Damsgaard, but they eventually opted for Catlin. Columbia owner Bob Stapleton said Catlin’s program “was the more forward-looking and would add to the body of knowledge in the sport”.

More on this from the ESPN report:

Athletes on both teams will continue to be tested roughly once every two weeks in addition to the tests conducted by other entities including the UCI, cycling’s international governing body. Most of the riders on Columbia and Garmin have been in similar programs for the last two seasons and thus have baseline blood and hormonal profiles already constructed.

In the recent past, independent testing has focused on what is called longitudinal testing, or detecting deviations from an athlete’s normal biomarkers that might indicate use of banned substances or blood doping. The ADSI program will continue to collect blood samples to build profiles, but also will expand urine testing in order to focus on detection of new-generation blood boosters similar to erythropotein, or EPO.

One of those “EPO bio-similar,” CERA, infiltrated the peloton quickly this year. A test was developed almost as quickly, reducing the usual lag time between introduction of a new doping product and its detection. Garmin team director Jonathan Vaughters said his hope is that techniques developed in Catlin’s program will continue to erode the advantage cheaters have over testers — although he doesn’t expect his riders to provide Catlin with any material.

CERA had figured in the doping cases of four riders in this year’s Tour de France, including third-placer Bernhard Kohl. The Austrian cyclist also donned the polka dot jersey for this year’s best climber. Kohl was suspended for two years because of the doping infringement.

ADSI will also continue to test for “traditional” performance enhancers, i.e. testosterone, anabolic steroids, cortisone, and masking agents.

Thursday 13, Nov 2008

  WADA happy with MLB’s anti-doping efforts

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wada steroidsPerhaps, it was the posh venue of Beverly Hills Hotel that had changed the tune of one of the most vocal of MLB’s naysayers.

The Human Growth Hormone Summit is a conference organized by the team-up of MLB and UCLA with the law firm of Foley and Lardner. According to the UCLA website, the summit, entitled Growth Hormone: Barriers to Implementation of hGH in Sports, “will spotlight the scientific, medical, legal and ethical issues that must be addressed before human growth hormone testing can be considered a routine part of sports anti-doping measures.

On Monday, the discussions focused on the efficacy of synthetic hGH.

Thomas Perls, a professor at Boston University School of Medicine, said there’s a lack of scientific evidence that HGH by itself is actually a performance-enhancing drug.

Don Catlin, however, said:  “To me there is no question (hGH) works. I know you can’t prove it, but that’s no different than 25 or 30 years ago with anabolic steroids.”  Catlin is the founder of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab and director of Anti-Doping Research.