2020 Olympics could see new drug tests

In recent years doping has been a hot topic when it comes to athletics and the Olympic Games. The Russian doping scandal has seen a total of 37 Olympic and Winter Olympic medals stripped from Russian athletes since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake. Of course, doping is nothing new with athletes as far back as the 1968 Games in Mexico City having been found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs.

However, there seems to have been somewhat of an influx of banned substances being used in recent years. Now though we might just have seen one of the biggest breakthroughs to date when it comes to tackling the issue. Last week it was announced that a new test to detect the presence of these drugs could be rolled out in Tokyo in less than three year’s time.

Tokyo 2020

Currently, the system involves a blood test which can detect gene markers in an athlete’s blood which flags up these substances. Now the International Olympic Committee alongside the World Anti-Doping Agency are supporting new research from the University of Brighton to develop a new system which focuses on saliva samples. With over £500,000 pledged to the group, the technique will seek out these gene markers in saliva instead of blood.

With a similar method, also being trialled in Rugby Union it could revolutionise sport ahead of the 2020 Games. This new system has a high longevity and can identify drugs in somebody’s system months after the initial consumption.

At the moment blood is used to track banned substances as saliva can be easily contaminated with food and other factors but this new development will rule this out. Professor Yannis Pitsiladis who is fronting the research said: “We are very confident that this will be ready before Tokyo 2020. There is no point looking for the drug, we need to look at what is left behind. It can detect the use of the drug after it has left the system.”

With doping dominating Olympic headlines in the past few months and years, Olympic officials will be hoping that this new development means that the focus will only be on sport when the next Games rolls around.

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