The scientific activities of the Doping Authority consist of the following:
- a continuous survey of the scientific literature based on the identification of doping-related relevance;
- conducting and initiating research that serves the purposes of the national and international anti-doping policy; and
- the diffusion of scientific doping expertise, both inside and outside the organisation.
Traditionally, the scientific activities are considered to include the “nutritional supplements and doping” project.
Survey of scientific literature
To ensure it is informed about the latest developments, the Doping Authority keeps a close eye on new publications of doping-related scientific literature and saves copies of the relevant articles in its archives. In 2012, approximately 300 relevant articles were added to this archive, which means that the total number of articles available is now more than 2,900. The number of relevant publications has increased perceptibly in recent years; doping is a topic that has also been a focus of increasing interest in scientific circles.
The information from the available literature is actively distributed and serves as the basis for internal advice for, among others, the Control and Prevention department. This information is also used to answer specific scientific questions from doctors, lawyers, journalists, students and other interested parties.
Efficacy of anti-doping policy
December 2010 saw the start of a doctorate project entitled 'The efficacy of anti-doping policy'. The research will focus on a multidisciplinary approach to this wide-ranging field, looking in particular at the areas of prevention, detection and sanctions, and how these have been brought together in the current anti-doping approach at the international level and in the Netherlands. The doctorate supervisor is Professor Maarten van Bottenburg, the professor of sports development at Utrecht University. Data collection continued in 2012. The project will continue until late 2014.
Endocrinologist Pim de Ronde has set up a polyclinic in the Kennemer Gasthuis in Haarlem targeting people with health problems caused by anabolic steroids. The polyclinic is open once a week and it has now received approximately 200 visitors. The Doping Authority is playing an advisory role. This 'steroids clinic' has now been recognised as an official expertise centre by the Dutch association of tertiary medical teaching hospitals (STZ).
The first steps were taken in 2011 on an update of the report on gene doping from 2004. Of course, developments in this field are under continuous observation, in part through contacts with the Dutch member of the WADA Expert Group on Gene Doping, the professor of pharmaceutical gene modulation, Hidde Haisma. Together with Professor Haisma, the professor of pharmaceutical history Toine Pieters and student Toon van der Gronde are drafting a review of the current situation in this field. This article has now been accepted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Publication will follow in 2013.
Sociological Research Program
As part of WADA's 'Sociological Research Program', a research proposal has been submitted and approved in collaboration with four other NADOs with supervision from the University of Potsdam. The study will focus on possible performance indicators for NADOs and it will continue until the end of June 2014. On behalf of all the NADOs concerned, the Doping Authority will have an advisory and coordinating role.
A working party has been established for exchanging experiences with six other scientific members of staff working for the national anti-doping organisations of Switzerland, Norway, Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Australia. Once every two months, there is a telephone meeting about ongoing studies and specific scientific doping issues. The chair revolves at each meeting.
We also supervised and made assessments of several students who looked in depth at doping topics as part of their studies. The emphasis was on health-related and forensic training.
We acted as a referee on three occasions for the British Paper of Sports Medicine and once for the Journal of Sports Sciences.
We participated in discussions about counterfeit medical products at two meetings arranged by the Medicines and Medical Technology directorate of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. We also supplied input at a separate session about progress with the policy agenda for counterfeit medicines and medical devices. For the Social and Cultural Planning Office, we participated at a number of meetings looking at the report 'Strengthening the sports data infrastructure'.
In response to an invitation from our sister organisation, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), there was a visit to their annual scientific conference in October 2012. This year, the conference focused on preventing doping use. This was the eleventh scientific conference organised by the USADA and the tenth occasion upon which the Doping Authority was invited.
We were represented in July 2012 at the International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport in Glasgow. This was a pre-Olympic conference that was co‑organised by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. The Doping Authority was invited to a mini-conference looking at the relationship between asthma medicines and doping regulations.
In 2012, 160 product-batch combinations were added to the website. This is the highest number ever, a sign that the Dutch Dietary Supplements system (NZVT) is still catering to a significant need of athletes and their support staff. The NZVT was established in 2003 and the fact that a system for testing dietary supplements is still required was demonstrated again in 2012 by, among other things, the finding that one submitted batch was rejected because of the unexpected presence of various stimulants in what was otherwise a standard product. In total, on 31 December 2012, there were 373 product-batch combinations on the NZVT website (antidoping.nl/nzvt), representing 188 products, 37 producers and 17 substantive categories. In 2012, there was interest in the NZVT from countries including the United States, South Africa and Indonesia.
The Doping Authority also acts as an adviser to a comparable initiative from the British company HFL (see www.informed-sport.com) and, with support from the European Union, a new attempt was launched in 2012 to establish international agreement so that all athletes have at their disposal an overview of supplements associated with the lowest possible doping risks. This line will be continued in 2013.