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Plasticizer Test Builds Acceptance


In early October, scientists at the WADA approved laboratory in Cologne detected the presence of plasticizers in the urine of the three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. The plasticizers compound found is used only to increase the flexibility and strength of blood bags. The presence of such a substance could indicate that an autologous blood transfusion had taken place. The discovery was made using a test that had not been yet been validated.  Although Contador also tested positive for very small amounts of the banned drug Clenbuterol, the fact that he has been placed under suspicion by a test that was not proven, which if later was found to be untrue could destroy both his career and reputation.

The validation of the test designed to detect plasticizers has thankfully moved a step forward today following the publication of a manuscript describing and endorsing the method in a highly respected scientific journal. The paper, published in this quarter’s Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry in confirms the test for  “metabolites of the plasticizers” as an effective method of detecting the shadow of an athletes contact with IV equipment. Dr. Jordi Segura, the head of the IOC-accredited laboratory in Barcelona, originally developed the test. It will be a useful tool to the antidoping movement and protecting the clean, honest athletes of the world.

Dr. Segura’s test has not yet received an official endorsement from WADA as an anti doping test, and is unlikely to do so easily, as plasticizers presence in an athlete’s sample only indicates that a medical procedure has occurred using blood bags but not the exact nature of the procedure, nor the contents of the bag.

Francesco Botré, the chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Rome, said. “If someone has a very, very high level of plasticizers in the urine, it would be hard for that athlete to explain how that happened if not for doping. If the level is lower, it obviously would make it much harder, but it would still be possible to prove.”

Bike Pure has also been emailed information since Contador’s case, some cheating athletes have switched to using “Mylar “ blood bags, which leave no trace in testing.