Cycling, athletics and rugby were the three most tested sports by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) in 2014, their annual report has revealed.
Of the 8,896 urine samples collected by the independent public body last year, cyclists produced the largest share at 1,686, with 23 abnormal test results recorded, ahead of athletics with 12 abnormalities from 1,339 samples.
Rugby was the next most tested sport producing six irregular results from 1,339 samples and was followed by football and handball, with 778 and 401 urine samples were collected respectively.
In addition the annual report by the AFLD, which was established in 2006, also revealed that 2,207 blood samples were taken during the calendar year, with 561 collected for anti-doping purposes.
A further 1,646 were to establish blood profiles of athletes.
The AFLD placed a priority on “long term monitoring” of elite athletes and focused the second strand of their testing strategy on monitoring the athletes blood profiles, setting up a unit to help achieve the aim.
Furthermore, the organisation made investments in intelligence and investigative methods, as well as strengthening relationships both at national and international levels.
The report also revealed a change in strategy from the previous year as 6,410 in-competition tests were carried out by body in comparison to 7,628 in 2013, however out-of-competition numbers rose to 4,004 from 3,412.
Due to the increased sophistication of doping methods investment in scientific research had been identified as key area as 10 per cent of the body’s budget was put towards increasing research projects by 50 per cent, compared to 2013.
Improving screening methods, the impact of substances and the development of new methods and strategies were considered to be priorities, which were adapted to main difficulties experienced by laboratories, such as the detection of EPO when micro-dosed or the use of anabolic steroids.
Research at the anti-doping laboratory at Châtenay-Malabry has been earmarked as a key goal owning to their expertise in adapting to the latest techniques and new substances, with 450 detected last year, which has also led to invitations to participate in working groups organised by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as well as providing training on EPO detection.
AFLD have already reached a partnership with the French Tennis Federation to increase the number of in and out-of-competition anti-doping tests.
The body also provided testing and analysis at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Their international presence continues to grow having also sent observers to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics to provide training support to French-speaking anti-doping organisations.
The implementation of the new WADA Code, which came in force on January 1, 2015, is viewed as one of this year’s biggest challenges as the organisation aim to strengthen the fight against doping.
The AFLD annual report can be read below.
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