Current limitations of the Athlete's Biological Passport use in sports

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2011 Sep;49(9):1413-5. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2011.609. Epub 2011 May 28.


The Athletes Biological Passport (ABP) has received both criticisms and support during this year. In a recent issue of The Lancet, Michael Wozny considered that the use of the ABP makes it more difficult to take banned substances and that it was successfully used against the Italian elite cyclist Franco Pellizotti. After that, Italy's anti-doping tribunal considered that there was not enough evidence to prove manipulation of his own blood profile in Pellizotti's case. However, the UCI appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that sanctioned Pellizotti with a suspension of 2 years. Since its implementation, some problems have emerged. From 2010 to date, a large number of reports regarding the stability of the blood variables used to determine the ABP have been published, showing mixed results. This study considers that there is a risk of misinterpreting the physiological variations of the hematological parameters determined by the anti-doping authorities in the ABP. The analytical variability due to exercise training and competitions and/or to different metabolic energy demands, hypoxia treatments, etc. could lead to an increase in false-positives when using the ABP with the dramatic consequences that they might cause in major sports events like the forthcoming London Olympic Games. Moreover, the ABP characteristics, procedures, thresholds, or individual determination of reference ranges, abnormal out-comes, strikes, "how the profile differs from what is expected in clean athletes" should be clearly stated and explained in a new public technical document to avoid misunderstandings and to promote transparency.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Hematologic Tests / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors