Second, there has been some doubt expressed in the comments of previous threads about whether EPO testing was, in fact, exclusively targeted (i.e., EPO tests were only triggered by a blood screening). I asked the ITF to confirm the statements regarding EPO testing contained in the September 9, 2009 New York Times article. Here is their response:
|The ITF confirmed that the New York Times article about EPO testing protocol was correct.|
Like most of the probing we have done regarding the ITF's anti-doping statistics, we are left with more questions than answers. For example, what specific finding in the blood screen triggers an EPO test? Further, if blood screening was the only trigger for an EPO test, why did the ITF reduce blood testing in both 2008 and 2009 compared to the levels of 2007 and 2006?
Also, how much time, on average, passed between getting a blood sample, running the screening test, and collecting a sample for the EPO test? Not that this information really matters, because depending on method of injection EPO clears after 24 to 72 hours. Any trace of the drug would be long gone by the time the EPO test was conducted, especially if the test used an in-competition sample (e.g., all the EPO tests in 2009).
What should be occurring? The emphasis for EPO detection should be through out-of-competition tests using a mixture of both targeted techniques (i.e., based on the assessment of factors, such as blood screen indicators and major performance improvements) and random selection (i.e., non-targeted). However, the ITF conducted zero out-of-competition EPO tests in both 2007 and 2009.
To conclude, as with many aspects of the ITF's testing protocols we have examined (e.g., here and here), it is hard to imagine a more poorly designed system. It is simply not going to catch players that are doping (except for the very stupid). Again, based on these findings I fail to understand how the ITF's testing protocols are in compliance with the WADA's International Standard for Testing.
In other news:
The ITF suspended wheelchair tennis player Kaitlyn Verfuerth for a prohibited stimulant.
David Savic has a hearing date of March 29, 2012 for appeal of his match-fixing ban. Here's some background on his ban.