No new doping tests for Six Nations - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No new doping tests for Six Nations

03/02/2009 07:33:33 AM Comments (0)

Six Nations chiefs have said that using blood tests as part of an anti-doping programme at this year's competition would be useless because they believe all the players are beyond reproach.

Introducing blood tests - to detect blood doping and performance enhancing substances such as EPO (erythropoietin) - for the first time was discussed last year by organisers of Europe's biggest rugby tournament.

However it has ultimately been decided to stick with an anti-doping programme that has remained virtually unchanged for the past 10 years.

Six Nations anti-doping chief John Davis, a delegate of the International Rugby Board, said: "We considered it but we do not believe it is useful to introduce blood tests: first of all because we are not obliged to, and secondly because all the tests carried out at the World Cup were negative."

The Six Nations begins on Saturday with England against Italy and Ireland playing France. As in previous years, two players from each team will be drawn randomly to undergo urine tests at the end of each of the 15 games.

However players who may decide to cheat by using performance-enhancing blood boosters such as EPO, synthetic haemoglobin or transfusions - or growth hormones - should have nothing to fear.

EPO, which has been popularised by endurance athletes but has also been used in sports where explosive power is needed, can be detected in urine but will not be a target for anti-doping controllers at the Six Nations.

Growth hormones, synthetic haemoglobin and blood transfusions can all be detected in blood samples.

It means the tests set to be carried out will only be able to detect the use of anabolic steroids, stimulants or recreational drugs.

At the tournament the national anti-doping bodies of the respective host countries will have the task of collecting and analysing samples. Each anti-doping body will also carry out its own random testing of its national team.

Pierre Bordry, the president of the French anti-doping body the AFLD - whose work helped snare a number of drugs cheats at last year's Tour de France - said the IRB had asked them not to test players from visiting countries.

"Upon request from the IRB and from the Six Nations committee we will not be carrying out random tests on players from visiting teams," Bordry said.

The AFLD will now be limited to carrying out any random tests on the France team - none of whom, up to January 30, had been tested.

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