This document answers some frequently asked questions about the Athlete Biological Passport (“ABP”), which became part of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (the “Programme”) in 2013.
Q: What is the ABP?
A: The ABP is a way to detect the use of prohibited substances and methods by monitoring an individual player’s blood parameters. Multiple blood samples are collected and analysed over time, and these samples make up the player’s profile, or ‘passport’.
Q: How is the ABP different from traditional blood and urine testing?
A: Traditional samples are analysed in isolation, and normally require the presence of a prohibited substance in order to demonstrate that a violation of the rules has occurred. By contrast, ABP blood samples are analysed as a group, using thresholds based solely on the individual player’s data.
Q: What does the ABP do that traditional testing does not?
A: Analysis of blood parameters over multiple samples allows each player’s normal values to be established. These normal values are then monitored for changes caused by:
a. The use of a prohibited substance or method without detecting the substance itself.
b. Intermittent use (including micro-dosing) of prohibited substances and methods.
c. Use of substances for which a direct test is not available.
Q: Do players have access to their profiles?
A: Yes, all profiles are stored in ADAMS and are available for players to view via their personal account at any time.
Q: How much blood is collected in an ABP sample and how much blood can be collected from a player at any one time?
A: Each ABP sample is 6 millilitres (about 1 teaspoon), which represents about one-thousandth or 0.1% of the total amount of blood in the body. In practice, no more than 22 millilitres (4.5 teaspoons) will be collected at once. The collection of more than 6 millilitres (up to 22 millilitres) will occur when the samples will also be used to test for multiple substances (i.e., traditional testing).
Q: How long does it take the body to replace the blood drawn?
A: While the exact time depends on the person’s health, diet and exercise, it should be no more than 3 hours.
Q: How many attempts can be made to collect a blood sample?
A: If the DCO is not able to collect blood after 3 unsuccessful attempts, the collection process will be terminated.
Q: Is there a minimum time between consecutive samples?
A: No. There may be occasions when collection of samples in close succession is necessary, such as when a change in a player’s normal values is detected.
Q: Are there any differences in the ABP sample collection procedure compared to traditional blood sample collection?
A: Yes. While a DCO will ask you to sit for 30 minutes prior to providing any blood sample, you will also be asked some questions when providing ABP samples, including whether you have been exercising in the last two hours, and whether you have given blood or had a blood transfusion in the past week.
Q: Why is sitting for 30 minutes prior to providing a blood sample necessary?
A: To ensure that the blood is evenly distributed throughout the body.
Q: Why are players asked if they have exercised recently or donated blood or had a blood transfusion in the past week before providing an ABP sample?
A: These activities may result in a temporary change to a player’s normal values.
Q: Does the ABP replace traditional testing?
A: No. The ABP is an additional tool in the fight against doping, and is used alongside traditional blood and urine testing and analysis methods.
Q: Have any athletes been convicted of doping under the ABP?
A: Yes. As an example, there have been 19 such cases in track and field athletics alone.
Q: Who or what determines whether a player faces a charge of doping under the ABP?
A: Software automatically detects unusual blood parameter values. These are provided to an expert panel along with the player’s explanation of those values. If the panel unanimously concludes that it is highly likely that the player used a prohibited substance or method, then the player will be charged.