Rugby league says it’s taking the fight to those who cheat.
Australia’s National Rugby League announced it will introduce new “biological passport” drug tests that can spot the signs of doping even after chemicals have left an athlete’s body.
The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme was developed during last year’s London Olympics to detect Human Growth Hormone (hGH) and increases testing for peptides.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith said in a statement the ABP tests differ from traditional techniques as they look at the effects of doping, rather than directly detecting the prohibited substances or methods used.
“This means that even if a substance has left the body, the tests will detect if it was there,” he said.
The drug testing announcement follows the appointment of Nick Weeks as the NRL General Manager of Integrity and General Counsel, as well as the establishment of rugby league’s first dedicated Integrity and Compliance Unit.
“We will do everything we can to have a drug-free game and the new testing measures are just part of our commitment to fans and players to placing integrity and compliance at the forefront of Rugby League,” Smith said.
“Under the guidance of a Queen’s Counsel we established the NRL Integrity and Compliance Unit and we have been working with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to identify the emerging threats in world sport.
“We have now developed a comprehensive new testing programme that responds to and minimises these risks.”
The introduction of the new testing measures follows consultation between the NRL, ASADA, NRL clubs and is supported by the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).
ASADA Chief Executive Aurora Andruska said that the NRL’s anti-doping programme was as comprehensive as any in world sport.
She said it was tailored to meet emerging threats in doping while providing an ongoing deterrent against substances and methods prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
ASADA is currently investigating several NRL clubs after the release of a wide-ranging Australian Crime Commission report into doping in Australian sport.