Autologous blood doping test with a catch

They don’t provide any details, but no question that there are changes in red cell membranes during freezing that could be exploited for a test. The most interesting thing about this potential test is that it would be targeted not to domestiques and tier 2 riders, but to the elite. Because only riders of some means can afford the technology necessary for not only separating cells and plasma, but freezing the cells cryogenically and storing them for long periods of time. Even Basso in his salad days, it now appears, used the cheaper but somewhat more inconvenient withdrawal/transfusion process, though back then perhaps all riders did.

There are changes in red cells that would accompany storage at room temperature, too, which could also be used as the basis for a test, but apparently the researchers in this story did not address that.
 
Aug 27, 2012
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Potentially very nice. But may not be sufficient if rbc's can be kept for up to 40 days without freezing, or if other preservation techniques can bypass the new test.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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There has been discussions of this type of test for several years. The key challenge is the method these days is a steady calender of transfusions to fool the biopassport. Blood is seldom frozen
 
Aug 27, 2012
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So when are we going to see some budding journalists doing a 24/7 tracking on the key riders in the 40 days leading up to the GT's...

Small investment for a major Sports Watergate.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Tinman said:
So when are we going to see some budding journalists doing a 24/7 tracking on the key riders in the 40 days leading up to the GT's...

Small investment for a major Sports Watergate.
Wigginsgate ;)
 
Jun 19, 2009
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Race Radio said:
There has been discussions of this type of test for several years. The key challenge is the method these days is a steady calender of transfusions to fool the biopassport. Blood is seldom frozen
Creepy to consider how much time and effort it takes to accomplish these methods and still compete. It definitely isn't for the emerging dometique who would have to rely on less frequent blood draws.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Race Radio said:
There has been discussions of this type of test for several years. The key challenge is the method these days is a steady calender of transfusions to fool the biopassport. Blood is seldom frozen
Yeah I don't understand why they are even considering it!? If Tyler was doing regular change overs back in the noughties (early 2000s) who is or even did actually freeze their blood?

Has there ever been a report of someone doing that?

Or is that where people are heading now, as part of the doping evolution?
 
Dec 27, 2010
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Dear Wiggo said:
Yeah I don't understand why they are even considering it!? If Tyler was doing regular change overs back in the noughties (early 2000s) who is or even did actually freeze their blood?

Has there ever been a report of someone doing that?

Or is that where people are heading now, as part of the doping evolution?
I think I recall Tyler mentions freezing BBs so they last longer and there's less need for constant trans/re-infusions (ie less need for constant trips to Spain).
 
Sep 29, 2012
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will10 said:
I think I recall Tyler mentions freezing BBs so they last longer and there's less need for constant trans/re-infusions (ie less need for constant trips to Spain).
AH my bad then. I have read his book, and the thing that stuck out for me was the cycling of BBs.

Now that you mention it - yes they had to add something to the blood, carefully yeah? So they could freeze it?
 
Mar 12, 2010
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Merckx index said:
Even Basso in his salad days, it now appears, used the cheaper but somewhat more inconvenient withdrawal/transfusion process, though back then perhaps all riders did.
Basso re-infused rbc and plasma separately prior to the 2006 Giro.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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Merckx index said:
There are changes in red cells that would accompany storage at room temperature, too, which could also be used as the basis for a test, but apparently the researchers in this story did not address that.
I think you mean refrigerated storage. No one is keeping blood at room temps for very long.:eek:

I know you know this but it could really confuse the uninformed.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Race Radio said:
There has been discussions of this type of test for several years. The key challenge is the method these days is a steady calender of transfusions to fool the biopassport. Blood is seldom frozen
I have no idea what this means. Why would refrigerating blood rather than freezing be more likely to fool the passport?
 
I found a news piece about the same scientists from 2007 that also spoke of a "new method for testing blood doping". At that time they seemed to be at the start of the process and they had just gotten funding from WADA. They were going to catalogue all the proteins in the RBCs to see which of the proteins show signs of change from freezing. The question is how close they actually are to a viable test. So far they can detect changes in lab samples but it's not clear if they have even tested reinfused blood yet which is a critical step. The reason this story is out right now is because the scientists are featured in a weekly science show on swedish TV that airs on monday so it's not even the case that the news story is based on any recently published results it seems but rather it is referencing ongoing work. So it will probably take a decent while before we get any close to an actual test.

Edit:

The news story speculates that a test could in theory be used to test old samples from previous years. Isn't there a huge problem in that since samples from previous years would have had to been frozen since the test was taken?
 
Tyler'sTwin said:
I have no idea what this means. Why would refrigerating blood rather than freezing be more likely to fool the passport?
If you have a steady calender of transfusions in order to not have big variations in the passport that usually means the blood is not stored for very long which means there is no need to freeze it. So it's not hte refrigeration that is fooling the passport but rather the method that fools the passport doesn't need freezing.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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ingsve said:
If you have a steady calender of transfusions in order to not have big variations in the passport that usually means the blood is not stored for very long which means there is no need to freeze it. So it's not hte refrigeration that is fooling the passport but rather the method that fools the passport doesn't need freezing.
This is what I don't understand. Please explain why more transfusions would fool the passport. More net withdrawals and net infusions would mean more peaks and valleys in Hb and retics. More transfusions because you're playing the zero-sum game* that is withdrawal/infusion is just a way of getting around the short storage time problem. Athletes freeze blood so they wont have to do the old switch-a-roo every 4(?) weeks or whatever it is.

* Actually, it's not quite a zero-sum game because cells die in the fridge.
 
lean said:
I think you mean refrigerated storage. No one is keeping blood at room temps for very long.:eek:

I know you know this but it could really confuse the uninformed.
Someone here is paying attention! Yes, indeed, my bad, I meant refrigerated storage. Unless, of course, you can't afford a Landis to stay in the apartment while you're gone and make sure the power to the fridge doesn't go out.

This is what I don't understand. Please explain why more transfusions would fool the passport. More net withdrawals and net infusions would mean more peaks and valleys in Hb and retics. More transfusions because you're playing the zero-sum game* that is withdrawal/infusion is just a way of getting around the short storage time problem. Athletes freeze blood so they wont have to do the old switch-a-roo every 4(?) weeks or whatever it is.
ingsve explained it pretty well. The test referenced by the OP looks at changes in RBCs that are stored frozen. If you have periodic withdrawals/transfusions, you don't need to freeze the cells, you store them at refrigerated temps. Hence the changes that occur in RBCs when frozen don't necessarily occur. As I noted earlier, cells stored at refrigerated temperatures will also undergo changes, but probably not as dramatic, and as easily detectable, as those in frozen cells.

Also, this would most likely be a standalone test, not part of the passport. Just like the current test for homologous transfusion--using blood of another individual--is a standalone test. Of course, riders are also being tested by the passport while this is going on, but all these withdrawals/transfusions, if done carefully, don't affect basic blood values much. Usually a withdrawal is followed by a transfusion, which keeps HT/Hb and retics at about the same value. Before a race, there will only a transfusion, or at the least, a withdrawal followed by a transfusion of a greater amount than was withdrawn. This is where riders use techniques like saline infusion to lower HT and EPO to raise retics.

So far they can detect changes in lab samples but it's not clear if they have even tested reinfused blood yet which is a critical step.
Yes, they certainly need to do that, but most likely most of the changes that occur in the cells upon freezing would not be reversed upon transfusion. Transfused cells have a half-life of about four months, so there would be plenty of them in circulation during the time frame in which testing would occur.

Basso re-infused rbc and plasma separately prior to the 2006 Giro.
Yes, this is thought to be a common practice now. Riders do separate cells and plasma, which requires a centrifuge. But they store them at refrigerated temperatures, so it is not necessary to treat the cells with glycerol and freeze them by the special process required for long-term storage. This I think is fairly expensive if you are going to be sure you do it right. And as Tyler's book graphically notes, you don't want to infuse damaged cells.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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The question was; what does a steady calender of transfusions have to do with fooling the passport? The cycles of withdrawals/infusions are to prevent the blood in your fridge from going stale. It's simply a way around the short shelf life of refrigerated blood.

How much blood can you be juggling in and out of the fridge before it becomes problematic? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the yield is ~75%, which would leave you ½ a unit down when withdrawing 2 units and reinfusing 2. I would think this makes freezing blood the better option.
 
Tyler'sTwin said:
The question was; what does a steady calender of transfusions have to do with fooling the passport? The cycles of withdrawals/infusions are to prevent the blood in your fridge from going stale. It's simply a way around the short shelf life of refrigerated blood.

How much blood can you be juggling in and out of the fridge before it becomes problematic? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the yield is ~75%, which would leave you ½ a unit down when withdrawing 2 units and reinfusing 2. I would think this makes freezing blood the better option.
If the passport reflects your normal levels most of the time then the times you do a transfusion is more likely to show up as an anomaly. By keeping a steady calender of transfusions you are in essense elevating your entire baseline so that your doped levels becomes your baseline. You fool the passport by making it look like your normal levels are higher than they actually are.
 
Jul 9, 2010
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Dear Wiggo said:
Now that you mention it - yes they had to add something to the blood, carefully yeah? So they could freeze it?
Yes, plasticizers. You might remember that from Picontador.
 
Jul 9, 2010
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Tyler'sTwin said:
The question was; what does a steady calender of transfusions have to do with fooling the passport? The cycles of withdrawals/infusions are to prevent the blood in your fridge from going stale. It's simply a way around the short shelf life of refrigerated blood.

How much blood can you be juggling in and out of the fridge before it becomes problematic? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the yield is ~75%, which would leave you ½ a unit down when withdrawing 2 units and reinfusing 2. I would think this makes freezing blood the better option.
It depends. If I remember correctly, the attrition rate of rbcs is much higher for the freezing/thawing process than for a prolonged refrigeration process.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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ingsve said:
If the passport reflects your normal levels most of the time then the times you do a transfusion is more likely to show up as an anomaly. By keeping a steady calender of transfusions you are in essense elevating your entire baseline so that your doped levels becomes your baseline. You fool the passport by making it look like your normal levels are higher than they actually are.
I think that's nonsense, because the blood doesn't just magically appear in your fridge. Every net infusion has to be preceeded by a net withdrawal, so how does it raise your baseline? More net transfusions will only increase your risk of an abnormal profile. Transfusing X amount of blood in several steps rather than one step should lessen the risk of producing a few isolated values that stand out like a sore thumb, however, because the transfusions would be smaller and thus have less impact on blood values.

arjanh said:
It depends. If I remember correctly, the attrition rate of rbcs is much higher for the freezing/thawing process than for a prolonged refrigeration process.
I think it's ~55% vs ~75%.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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arjanh said:
Yes, plasticizers. You might remember that from Picontador.
Hm no. It was mentioned up thread. Plasticizers come from the plastic (bag) containers the blood is stored in. But 10/10 for confidence in your response! :D
 
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