By David Owen

The Doping Autoriteit is facing the prospect of further reducing the number of tests it is able to conduct ©Getty ImagesThe Dutch national anti-doping organisation (NADO), the Doping Autoriteit, is facing the prospect of further reducing the number of tests it is able to conduct after the new World Anti-Doping Code comes into effect on January 1.


This is because of stipulations in the new code that require additional analyses and will hence almost certainly increase the cost of some tests.

Herman Ram, director of the Autoriteit, told insidethegames in a telephone interview that the new code would require NADOs to conduct mandatory testing for erythropoietin (EPO) and human growth hormone (hGH) in a number of sports.

Ram estimated that this might increase the cost of testing by approximately 10 per cent, or some €70,000 (£55,400/$87,000).

If the Autoriteit were Government-funded, this is the kind of sum you would not expect to cause undue difficulty.

However, as Ram explained, testing in the Netherlands is not paid for by the Dutch Government, but by the National Lottery.

The Dutch NADO is therefore dependent on the number of people who play the Lottery and, according to Ram, this has been on the decline.

"If my budget for testing doesn't grow, I have to make choices," Ram told insidethegames.

"The most simple solution is decreasing the number of tests, but that is not the most sensible approach."

The World Anti-Doping Code's requirement to conduct mandatory testing for erythropoietin and human growth hormone could decrease the volume of viable testing due to the cost ©Getty ImagesThe World Anti-Doping Code's requirement to conduct mandatory testing for erythropoietin and human growth hormone could decrease the volume of viable testing due to the cost ©Getty Images



The number of tests conducted in the country has in any case been falling from a peak of 2,361 nearly a decade ago to around 1,800 at present, as testing costs have risen faster than the Autoriteit's budget.

What is more, it seems highly likely that other NADOs who cannot just tap in to additional funding could well find themselves in the same boat.

If that happens, then the worry must be that the new Code could give rise, at least at first, to a more generalised decline in testing, to the potential advantage of drug cheats.

Even where the actual number of tests does not fall, the effectiveness of testing may diminish as a consequence of cost-saving measures, such as endeavouring to collect samples from groups of athletes at the same time, which could make it harder to accomplish genuinely unannounced testing.

One possible chink of light is that Ram thinks increases in the volume of EPO and hGH tests as a consequence of the new rules might bring the unit cost of tests down.

It emerged at the weekend that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is to receive a much-needed three per cent budget increase from next year.

The Montreal-based agency is also expected to be able to draw, in coming years, on a new fund, totalling around $20 million (£12 million/€16 million) for new anti-doping research.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]s.biz


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