The scientific activities of Doping Authority Netherlands consist of the following:
- monitoring scientific literature
- consulting experts;
- the further development of scientific research.
MONITORING SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
To ensure it is informed about the latest developments, Doping Authority Netherlands keeps a close eye on new publications of doping-related scientific literature and saves copies of the relevant articles in its archives. A total of 228 relevant articles were added to those archives in 2020 (2019: 85). All the articles are available in digital format inside the organisation and they are also posted on the website doping.nl.
The information from the available literature serves as a basis for internal advice for the Legal Affairs, Enforcement & Investigations and Education departments, and the CEO (for, among other things, his contacts with the press). The information is also used to answer specific scientific questions from people outside the organisation such as doctors, lawyers, journalists, students and other interested parties.
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 clinical chemistry.
Doping Authority Netherlands also plays 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 Steroids Clinic in the Spaarne Gasthuis hospital in Haarlem and the British nutritional supplement testing system Informed Sport of the LGC company.
Doping Authority Netherlands also participated in USADA's digital Scientific Symposium, which was organised over an extended period on Fridays from 25 September to 23 October.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Spending of scientific budget
Doping Authority Netherlands has an annual scientific budget of € 70,500. The study of the composition and quality of doping preparations from the HAARLEM study by the Steroids Clinic was completed in 2020. The HAARLEM study is a doctoral research project on the health risks of androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) on the physical and mental health of male amateur athletes. It was already known that the quality of doping preparations on the black market is questionable, to say the least. The lab analyses conducted by Wageningen Food Safety Research have once again confirmed this impression.
A further € 7,500 was spent on research into the detection of cannabinoids in urine after the use of hemp products. This study was conducted in 2020 by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Cologne and it now awaits publication. A small proportion of the scientific budget was spent on the publication of articles in 'open access' research journals.
The Mulier Institute began a study in 2020 into the views of support staff about doping in elite sport and the role that support staff play in the counselling of elite athletes. The study has not yet been completed. A start was also made on research into the composition and quality of the 'new generation' of prohormones. The analyses are being conducted by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The 'new generation' consists in part of substances which have been in circulation for some time but have not yet been noticed by the authorities in the producing countries, and in part of compounds which are 'really' new.
Studies with the Ministry of Health as client
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport asked the consortium Bureau Beke / VU-University Amsterdam to conduct a study of trafficking in doping in 2019-2020. The resulting report – Strong Stuff – was published in December 2020. Doping Authority Netherlands was a member of the supervisory committee for the research.
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport also asked the Mulier Institute to conduct a study of 'The anti-doping policy in Dutch elite sport' in 2019-2020. The report was published in July 2020. Unfortunately, the part of the study looking at the prevalence of doping in Dutch sports was unsuccessful. The decision was taken to conduct a new prevalence study immediately. Doping Authority Netherlands is on the supervisory committee.
Immediately after the study of 'The anti-doping policy in Dutch elite sport', a survey was also conducted of opinions about integrity issues in elite sports. That report was also published in July 2020.
Doping Authority Netherlands wrote an article for Sport & Geneeskunde in 2020 about the 2015 study of prohibited substances in sports supplements. The article appeared in the March issue of the journal. The study was subsidised by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
Collaboration with government and government bodies
In 2020, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport looked at options for improving the policy on dietary supplements. Doping Authority Netherlands was involved in two working groups: an exploration of self-regulation by the market/establishment of a quality label, and an exploration of the establishment of a registration/notification system.
In 2020, Doping Authority Netherlands provided the NVWA with information for the study of the trade in SARMs.
Collaboration with the Steroids Clinic
In addition to research into the composition and quality of doping preparations from the HAARLEM study, Wageningen Food Safety Research was commissioned by Doping Authority Netherlands to analyse three products that had been received via the Steroids Clinic. They contained the growth hormone booster MK677. Users had reported side-effects. The analyses did not reveal any particularities. Doping Authority Netherlands was also involved as an author in three publications resulting from the HAARLEM study.
Literature study of cathinones
In 2020, Doping Authority Netherlands supervised a student studying the online sale of cathinones, a group of substances based on cathinone, an amphetamine-like substance with a mildly psychologically addictive effect. It is the active ingredient in the drug khat. The selected web shops target, among others, Dutch consumers. A number of cathinones are on the prohibited list. The project resulted in two publications, one in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Fytotherapie (Dutch Journal of Phytotherapy) and one in the Pharmaceutisch Weekblad (Pharmaceutical Weekly).
Other publications and reviews
In 2020, Doping Authority Netherlands was involved as an author in the publication of a study of the knowledge and attitudes of Olympic and non-Olympic athletes relating to supplement testing systems. Doping Authority Netherlands also reviewed four scientific studies.
The scientific officer of Doping Authority Netherlands is working on a doctorate at the University of Birmingham. The research looks at the relationship between the use of anabolic steroids and the personality structure of fitness adepts and bodybuilders.