WADA have acknowledge the study has raised questions about athletes attempting to avoid detection for doping through micro-dosing ©AFP/Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have acknowledged that a French television documentary which saw eight athletes undergo a month-long period of micro-dosing did "raise questions" about the ability of athletes to avoid testing positive by taking minimal amounts of performance enhancing substances.

Athletes participating in the study, documented by France 2's sports magazine show Stade 2, underwent a VO2 max test, a time trial on a static bike and a 3,000 metre run before repeating the tests after a month-long process of micro-dosing, using prohibited substances such as erythropoietin (EPO).

The study attempted to demonstrate how athletes could avoid detection from the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) through the process of micro-dosing, whilst they athletes displayed an average improvement of 6.1 per cent in the VO2 max test, as well as 2.3 and 2.8 per cent gains in the time trial and runs respectively.

WADA have now confirmed that they are now aware of the five completed profiles produced by the study and in a statement outlined that the ABP would have flagged up the profiles as possible doping cases.

“Of those five, two would have been considered “positive” cases under the ABP model if properly used, and three would have been “suspicious” cases leading to targeted testing,” the statement read.

The ABP system has been credited as a key tool in the fight against doping, by developing a blood profile of athletes and flagging abnormalities but micro-dosing has been suggested as a way of bypassing the system and avoiding detection.

The practice of micro-dosing was raised as a concern by cyclists interviewed for the UCI's CIRC report into doping in cycling
The practice of micro-dosing was raised as a concern by cyclists interviewed for the UCI's CIRC report into doping in cycling ©Getty Images

The practice of micro-dosing was raised as a concern by several cyclists interviewed as part of the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Cycling Independent Reform Commission report into doping in cycling, released in March. 

WADA reiterated their commitment to working with experts from the anti-doping community to enhance the ABP and tackle micro-dosing.

“The ABP, when used as part of an intelligent anti-doping programme, is a strong tool that helps to protect the rights of clean athletes across the world,” the statement read.

“We remain alert, however, to the need to continue our work with experts to enhance the tool as part of the progress of anti-doping work globally, and, as such, we will continue to strengthen the ABP so that clean athletes and the watching public retain full confidence in the anti-doping system.”

Having condemned the use of “human guinea pigs” in the experiment last week, WADA have now said that they understand that ethical permission had been given for the study to take place.

“WADA accepts that there may be studies that use humans to explore the effect of performance enhancing substances.”

“In such cases, they must be subjected to full ethical reviews that include monitoring of the study and the results.

“WADA has approved one such research project.”

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