Graham Arthur: 'It is very difficult to get away with the same thing today'

These independent organisations are set up to try to track down dopers
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The United States Anti-Doping Agency's report on Lance Armstrong was no doubt depressing. But, as I went into the detail, I could not help but be comforted by the knowledge that it would be very difficult to get away with the same thing today.

Unless, that is, the conspiracy went much further and encompassed the doping authorities and the laboratories.

There are three big differences now from then, one structural, the other two practical. First, in the last three years or so anti-doping organisations have been using a technique called the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP). That involves taking a small amount of an athlete's blood at regular intervals and then building up a profile over time that shows how the constituent parts of the athlete's blood vary. You've got red blood cells, baby blood cells and all the other ingredients which make up blood.

The ratios of those ingredients should stay the same over time and if they don't we'll pick that up with the ABP. If Lance Armstrong or any of the others involved in this scandal had been on the ABP it almost certainly would have been picked up because they were using drugs to regulate the pattern of their blood.

Secondly, there is now an athlete whereabouts system where athletes have to submit the hour and day where they can be located for testing. Had this been in place, it certainly wouldn't have been infallible but it would have been difficult to maintain the doping and give the test the slip.

The final thing that is very different now is that we have the World Anti-Doping Authority and independent national anti-doping organisations that are funded by government but are independent of government and independent of sport. Their job is to utilise the investigation resources that they have, utilise intelligence and information sources and get after dopers in a way that is just beyond the resources of a lot of international federations. Having that dedicated resource available now means that's a big difference in the landscape because you've got these organisations that are set up to try to track down dopers. There just wasn't that policing during the time covered by the Usada decision.

The writer is Director of Legal, UK Anti-Doping