Detection methods for autologous blood doping

Drug Test Anal. 2012 Nov;4(11):876-81. doi: 10.1002/dta.405. Epub 2012 Mar 9.


The use of blood doping is forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Several practices, such as blood transfusions are used to increase oxygen delivery to muscles and all of them are highly pursued. In this regard, the development of accurate methodologies for detecting these prohibited practices is one of the current aims of the anti-doping control laboratories. Flow cytometry methods are able to detect allogeneic blood transfusions but there is no official methodology available to detect autologous blood transfusions. This paper reviews protocols, including the Athlete Biological Passport, that use indirect markers to detect misuse of blood transfusions, especially autologous blood transfusions. The methods of total haemoglobin mass measurements and the detection of metabolites of blood bags plasticizers in urine are reviewed. The latter seems to be an important step forward because it is a fast screening method and it is based on urine, a fluid widely available for doping control. Other innovative approaches to blood transfusion detection are also mentioned. A combination of the reported methodologies and the implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport is becoming a promising approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Blood Transfusion, Autologous*
  • Doping in Sports* / methods
  • Erythropoietin / blood
  • Hematologic Tests / methods
  • Humans
  • Plasticizers / analysis
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Urinalysis / methods


  • Biomarkers
  • Plasticizers
  • Erythropoietin