Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses

 
Unit Presentation Research and Training Unit Services

 

1. What is the difference between the WADA and the LAD

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the independent international organization set up in 1999 to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms.

Composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world, the WADA coordinated the development and introduction of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code), a document which harmonizes rules pertaining to doping in all sports and in all countries.

The WADA is a foundation under Swiss private law. Its headquarters are in Lausanne (Switzerland) and its main office is in Montreal (Canada).

The mission of the Swiss Doping Analysis Laboratory (LAD) located in Epalinges is to carry out all necessary analytical work, in accordance with the most up-to-date methods, in order to determine the absence or presence of prohibited doping substances in anonymous biological samples supplied to it.

While the WADA may be considered to be the supreme administrative body in the global fight against doping, the LAD is the only laboratory in Switzerland that analyses biological samples to expose cheating and manipulation in the world of sport.

2. How many anti-doping laboratories are there in Switzerland and worldwide ?

One of the tasks of the WADA is to accredit anti-doping laboratories worldwide, of which there are 33 in total in all five continents. In Switzerland, there is only one anti-doping laboratory, located in Epalinges, the LAD.

3. How long has doping existed ?

In 1996, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the International Amateur Football Federation (FIFA) were among the first international federations to implement doping controls during their respective world championships. The following year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) created a medical commission and drew up an initial list of prohibited substances. Doping controls were carried out at the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, and then at the Mexico Olympics in 1968.

4. How long have anti-doping controls existed ?

In 1996, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the International Amateur Football Federation (FIFA) were among the first international federations to implement doping controls during their respective world championships. The following year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) created a medical commission and drew up an initial list of prohibited substances. Doping controls were carried out at the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, and then at the Mexico Olympics in 1968.

5. What are the principal aims of anti-doping controls ?

The objectives of the fight against doping can be summarized as follows :

To eliminate cheating in order to re-establish and ensure respect for fairness among athletes

To allow athletes to practise their sport with a healthy body and a healthy mind. Health during their activity and after their sporting career is a decisive factor

To comply with standards of ethics specific to the sports movement.

6. What means are available in the fight against doping ?

Since anti-doping controls were first put in place, the detection of direct markers, essentially present in urine, has been the standard method used in the fight against doping. Over time, secondary markers in blood and urine have been studied to allow longer-term detection. Currently, the fight against doping seeks to focus on the athlete as an individual and not as part of a general population.

7. How have anti-doping controls developed ?

The fight against doping became more complex in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of government-sponsored doping, which a number of countries were suspected of practising. Such suspicions were largely justified in the case of the German Democratic Republic.

The increased efficiency of detection methods is not unrelated to the net decline in the number of records established in certain sporting disciplines in the 1990s.

The fight against stimulants and steroids certainly yielded results, but the main thrust of the anti-doping effort very quickly focused on blood doping. Practised since the 1970s, it consists in taking blood from an athlete then re-injecting it to increase the number of red blood cells and improve aerobic capacity. The IOC prohibited blood doping in 1986.

However there have been other attempts to increase the haemoglobin level of sportsmen and women, particularly with erythropoietin (EPO), which was added in 1990 to the IOC’s list of prohibited substances. Ineffective for many years due to the lack of reliable tests, the detection of EPO was introduced for the first time at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

8. What are the most widely used doping substances ?

From 1990 to 2006, positive cases recorded in Switzerland related mostly to the use of stimulants, anabolic steroids and cannabinoids. In 2007, statistics produced by the WADA pointed to the undoubted predominance of anabolic steroids, often in cases of "poor country doping". Peptide hormones such as EPO are, however, still very effective and "fashionable", as are the blood transfusion practices widely covered by the press.

9. Where do substances prohibited by the WADA come from ?

It should be borne in mind that most doping products are medicines developed for therapeutic purposes for the treatment of severe renal anaemia. It can easily be imagined therefore that a doctor, as well as having access to such medicines, also has the required knowledge to administer these substances for the "treatment" of athletes, usually with more than one substance involved. We then talk of "cocktails".

10. Is there a law on doping in Switzerland ?

Yes. However, Swiss legislation is still relatively benign in this field. For example, doping is not on a par with drug dealing and does not permit investigations such as phone tapping. The laws are, however, being revised to ensure that doped athletes and potentially their entourage can be punished, as is already the case in France and Italy.