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Athlete Biological Passport Program FAQ

What is an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)?

An Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) is an ongoing electronic record of an athlete’s biological markers from multiple blood sample collections over a period of time.

An ABP differs from traditional blood tests by looking at the effects of doping rather than directly detecting the prohibited substances or methods used. This means that even if a substance has left the body, the ABP tests will detect if it was there.

Why is the NRL introducing an ABP program?

The new testing measures are part of a range of initiatives introduced by the NRL’s Integrity and Compliance Unit to protect rugby league. The testing program has been developed on the basis of expert advice and gives confidence to the fans and the players who are committed to a drug-free sport.

The NRL’s ABP program is part of a comprehensive suite of changes that will significantly strengthen rugby league against emerging threats to world sport.

What are the other new testing measures being announced by the NRL?

The new ABP program will run in addition to traditional blood and urine testing. The other new measures include:

  • Increased testing for Human Growth Hormone with samples sent to London to take advantage of the latest technology developed for the 2012 Olympics
  • Increased testing for peptides with samples sent to Cologne to take advantage of leading international developments in peptide testing

Who administers the NRL’s ABP Program?

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) will be contracted by the NRL to conduct all aspects of the program on its behalf.

When will the program start?

The program will commence in June 2013.

How are players selected?

Players are selected at ASADA’s discretion.

How often will ABP testing occur?

ASADA has indicated that a minimum of four tests would be reasonable to provide an individual athlete’s baseline record. A baseline record is simply gathering a sufficient quantity of data from which a panel of three experts can agree that it is highly likely that a prohibited substance or method has been used following testing. In a full year, it is expected each player would be required to submit to between four and ten tests.

How long will it take for tests to be completed?

The test itself is relatively short and only requires a sample of blood. However, an athlete is required to be in a rested state prior to undertaking the test which could result in a player waiting for up to two hours from the time he first advised of the test. Once notified an athlete must remain with the testing official until the test is complete.

Where will the biological passports be tested and by whom?

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratories in Australia will process ABP tests conducted in Australia.

Is the new ABP Program supported by the Rugby League Players’ Association?

Yes. The program has been discussed in detail with the RLPA. The RLPA strongly supports the testing of players to ensure compliance with the WADA code and the NRL’s Anti-Doping Policy.

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