The good news is that WADA have a test for plasticisers, the traces of molecules that contaminate blood when it is stored in plastic pouches. According to reports in Spanish newspaper El Pais, the test is close to being validated for anti-doping uses.
|A refreshing ice cold pint
Only don’t get too excited. The test has looked at hospital patients receiving blood infusions and has found a higher level of plastic molecules in their blood compared to a normal group of people. Specifically the test controls for DEHP, a substance used in blood pouches.
First, a high level of DEHP in the blood isn’t proof of doping, it is only proof of high DEHP levels. Clearly blood doping could raise levels of the molecule but securing a conviction here is going to be hard, riders could argue other causes created the problem, not least since the equipment used to withdraw, store and test the blood for anti-doping controls isn’t required to be DEHP free. It’s like trying to jail a burglar because you discover a crowbar and an empty sack marked “swag” in their home. The test isn’t “smoking gun” evidence.
Second, DEHP apparently isn’t the only plasticiser around. Doping involves going to substantial lengths in order to not to get caught. Riders and “doctors” use masking agents, time the consumption of substances to avoid tests and above all, use undetectable products and methods. Introduce a test for DEHP and the cheats will simply shop around for alternative pouches to store blood or even revert to the retro practice of in vitro storage, ie glass bottles.