The scientific activities of the Doping Authority consist of the following:
- an ongoing review of the scientific literature to identify documents relevant to doping;
- conducting and initiating research that serves the purposes of the national and international anti-doping policy; and
- the dissemination of scientific doping expertise both inside and outside the organisation.
Monitoring scientific literature
To ensure it is informed about the latest developments, the Doping Authority monitors publications of doping-related scientific literature and saves copies of the relevant articles in its archives. About 90 relevant articles were added to those archives in 2017. All the articles are available in digital format and the most important are posted on the website www.doping.nl. In addition, a network with a range of scientists is constantly being maintained in order to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in all sorts of areas relevant to doping (Haematology, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Physiology, Sociology, Health Education, Ethics, Sports Medicine, Gene Therapy and Detection/analysis). We acted as referees on eight occasions for peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The information from the available literature is actively distributed and serves as a basis for internal advice for the Enforcement & Investigations and Prevention departments, the legal officer (in the context of specific doping cases) and the CEO (for, among other things, his contacts with the press). This information is also used to answer specific scientific questions from people outside the organisation such as doctors, lawyers, journalists, students and other interested parties.
In 2017, the findings and recommendations from the thesis 'Striking the right balance - effectiveness of anti-doping policies' (which was presented in November 2016) were disseminated further internationally, primarily at international conferences (see the annex 'Overview of scientific publications and presentations'). The thesis also led to participation in a WADA working group on the prevalence of doping use (see 'International affairs').
There is a working party for exchanging experiences with seven other scientific members of staff working for the national anti-doping organisations of Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, the United States, and New Zealand. There are periodical telephone meetings about ongoing studies and specific scientific doping issues. There were four meetings in 2017. The chair revolves at each meeting.
There was collaboration with the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) on a project about the health risks of doping and supplements. Experience and knowledge have been exchanged during both the design and the implementation of the study (through participation in the supervisory committee). The RIVM report will be published in 2018. These contacts also led to further discussions about the doping-related questions in the 'Lifestyle Monitor' that is periodically conducted in the Netherlands.
At the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, we attended two meetings of the Biotechnology Forum. It is expected that developments in the field of genetic technology will also have an impact on sports in the longer term. The Doping Authority is therefore monitoring these developments closely.
The Sports Knowledge Centre was established to bring together all the available knowledge about sports and exercise. There was one meeting about doping in 2017 that the Doping Authority attended, without of course replicating the basic activities of the Doping Authority itself.
Endocrinologist Pim de Ronde has set up a polyclinic in the Spaarne hospital in Haarlem (the former Kennemer Gasthuis) targeting people with health problems caused by anabolic steroids. The polyclinic is open once a week. The Doping Authority has an advisory role. The polyclinic continued work in 2017 on a longitudinal study in which 100 users of (among other things) anabolic steroids will be studied during and after their course of steroids. The study, which is known as the HAARLEM study (health risks of anabolic androgen steroid use by male amateur athletes), is primarily funded by private sources from the Spaarne hospital and it is expected to last one year. Completion of the study is taking longer than planned. Data collection is expected to be completed in 2018.
The Doping Authority also acts as an advisor for a scientific project in which marathon runners will receive support in their efforts to run this distance in less than two hours (see www.sub2hrs.com), from the British nutritional supplements testing system, Informed Sport, of the LGC company and the American cycling association USA Cycling.
The Leiden-based company CHDR has conducted a study into the performance-enhancing and health-related effects of EPO use, and the Doping Authority acted as an advisor on this study as well. When the results were announced, most media attention focused on the absence of a significant performance-enhancing effect in a simulated cycling stage. The laboratory tests in the same subjects did show a significant increase in performance.
A final official advisory role focused on a study of sewage water for the presence of prohibited substances conducted by a company from Utrecht, KWR Water Cycle Research Institute. The results confirmed the use of doping substances around sporting events, and also the use of the high-risk drug dinitrophenol around fitness events.
Finally, the Doping Authority visited several scientific conferences: 'Tackling Doping in Sport' (in London in March), 'A holistic view of doping use' (in Brussels in March), 'Doping in Public Health' (in Oslo in June), the 16th USADA Scientific Symposium (in Orlando in October), 'Play the Game' (in Eindhoven, NL, in November) and the 14th Annual Scientific Sports Medicine Congress of Association for Sports Medicine (in Ermelo, NL, in November).