The athlete biological passport

Clin Chem. 2011 Jul;57(7):969-76. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2011.162271. Epub 2011 May 19.


Background: In elite sports, the growing availability of doping substances identical to those naturally produced by the human body seriously limits the ability of drug-testing regimes to ensure fairness and protection of health.

Content: The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), the new paradigm in testing based on the personalized monitoring of biomarkers of doping, offers the enormous advantage of being independent of this endless pharmaceutical race. Doping triggers physiological changes that provide physiological enhancements. In the same way that disease-related biomarkers are invaluable tools that assist physicians in the diagnosis of pathology, specifically selected biomarkers can be used to detect doping.

Summary: The ABP is a new testing paradigm with immense potential value in the current climate of rapid advancement in biomarker discovery. In addition to its original aim of providing proof of a doping offense, the ABP can also serve as a platform for a Rule of Sport, with the presentation before competition of the ABP to objectively demonstrate that the athlete will participate in a healthy physiological condition that is unaltered by performance-enhancing drugs. Finally, the decision-support system used today for the biological monitoring of world top-level athletes can also be advantageously transferred to other areas of clinical practice to reach the goal of personalized medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Doping in Sports* / ethics
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Sports* / ethics
  • Substance Abuse Detection / ethics
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*


  • Biomarkers
  • Hematinics