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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has approved the dried blood spot (DBS) testing and contaminants method in testing athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. Both the Executive Committee and Foundation Board voted in favour during a virtual meeting on May 20.

Read: The Athletics Illustrated interview with leading DBS scientist Dr. Marc Luginbühl.

Dried Blood Spot Testing

DBS is a form of collection where patients place blood drops on a filter card after a finger prick using a lancet. Once dry, blood spot cards are stable for shipment and long-term storage.

The WADA press statement reads, “The ExCo unanimously approved an important Technical Document (TD) on the innovative new process of dried blood spot (DBS) testing. This TD harmonizes DBS testing by providing Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) and WADA-accredited laboratories with specific requirements and procedures for DBS sample collection, transport, analysis and storage.

Leading the way

In addition to Dr. Marc Luginbühl, the University of Victoria has a team of six scientists and lab technicians who were considered to be part of a global revolution back in January 2016. At the time, it was a new, less-invasive method that could be applied to a variety of diseases and wellness monitoring.

WADA, in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee, the International Testing Agency and the National Anti-Doping Organizations of Australia, China, Japan, Switzerland and the USA, has been working since 2019 on the development of this method, which has the potential to make a significant positive impact.”

The use of DBS brings advantages such as minimally invasive sampling, reduced sampling costs, easier shipment and storage, as well as automated laboratory processes. Also, the blood sampling frequency could be increased, as DBS sampling is more convenient for the athletes. I see the implementation of DBS into the world of anti-doping as a very important step forward.