Sussex

University of Brighton: Breakthrough anti-doping test developed

An athlete holds a syringe and medicine bottle Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A test developed by Prof Yannis Pitsiladis can catch drug cheats out weeks after taking banned substances

A "breakthrough" drugs test to catch dope cheats in sport has been pioneered at the University of Brighton.

Professor Yannis Pitsiladis's test has been hailed as the most significant advance in drug detection in athletes for over a decade.

It works by detecting gene markers in the blood even weeks after the drugs are ingested.

The test has received more than £540,000 in funding and could be used at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The method of gene testing has been described as "groundbreaking" by the International Olympic Committee.

Image caption University of Brighton professor Yannis Pitsiladis

Prof Pitsiladis said: "Sport is going through its biggest crisis in modern history and it has been going through this crisis for a decade plus.

"Using this genetic sequencing technology, we can see the impact of these drugs well after the drug has gone, and that is the power of this new paradigm."

Current testing methods rely on catching cheats within a day of taking the drug, giving individuals a chance to get away with taking performance-enhancing substances.

With Prof Pitsiladis's test, longer term changes in genes can be detected in blood regardless of the amount of time since the drug was taken.

Image caption The "breakthrough" test identifies gene markers in blood

He added: "The current test works if you test them on the day or the days after they have taken the drug, but it doesn't work a week later.

"[With the new test] you can identify every single gene that is being switched on and off.

"This is probably the biggest deterrent in recent history."

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