The scientific activities of the Doping Authority consist of the following:
- an ongoing review of the scientific literature to identify documents related 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 keeps a close eye on new publications of doping-related scientific literature and saves copies of the relevant articles in its archives. About 85 relevant articles were added to those archives in 2018. 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 three 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.
If requests from the press are more scientific in nature than usual, the science officer will speak to the press. A specific request in 2018 concerned a question about doping analyses for the children's programme ‘Willem Wever’. Due to the limited time available to the staff of the Doping Authority, schoolchildren and students do not usually receive personal replies and they are referred to a specific section of the website established for this purpose. In order to do justice to the regularly recurring questions from schoolchildren, it was decided to cooperate with this popular children's programme.
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 two meetings in 2018.
The Doping Authority has an advisory role for a range of initiatives. The basic idea here is always to contribute both knowledge and experience and to further them in our own organisation. In some cases, this advisory role has been formalised. In this context, scientific contacts were maintained with the anabolic steroids polyclinic of the Spaarne Gasthuis hospital in Haarlem, with the British dietary supplement testing system Informed Sport of the LGC company, with the American cycling federation USA Cycling and with a scientific project in which marathon runners receive guidance in their goal of setting a world record of less than two hours (see www.sub2hrs.com). There have also been intensive contacts with the Leiden company CHDR as part of a study looking at the performance-enhancing and health-related effects of EPO. This included research into the detection of EPO abuse. The results of this last study have now been submitted to a scientific journal.
Finally, the Doping Authority visited several scientific conferences: the post-Olympic congress of the Dutch Society for Trauma Surgery (March, Arnhem), the 16th USADA Scientific Symposium (October, Chicago), Water Science for Impact at Wageningen University & Research (October, Wageningen), the 15th Annual Sports Medical Congress of the Association for Sports Medicine (November, Ermelo) and a mini-symposium on the subject of "Steroids during Rehabilitation" at the Reade Rehabilitation Centre (November, Amsterdam). At the request of the VSG, we participated in an evening about the quality policy for sports doctors.