NRL to start blood passports

The NRL is expected to start its biological passport program within a month, as part of its response to the doping controversy hanging over the game. Photo / File.
The NRL is expected to start its biological passport program within a month, as part of its response to the doping controversy hanging over the game. Photo / File.

The NRL is expected to start its biological passport program within a month, as part of its response to the doping controversy hanging over the game.

Up to 70 players, including Australia and State of Origin stars, will have blood samples taken to help rugby league's fight against doping.

Instead of detecting the prohibited substance or methods used, an Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) aims to look at the effects of blood doping from multiple samples taken over time.

"There is still some work to finalise but we'll be in a position to make some firm announcements in the near future,'' NRL chief executive David Smith told The Daily Telegraph.

"It's an area in which we've made significant progress.

"The Integrity Unit has been working closely with ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority), the clubs and the Rugby League Players' Association to ensure we are in the best position to protect the game from emerging threats in that area.''

The report added that only 17 per cent of contracted NRL players are set to initially take part in the ABP testing.

World Anti-Doping Agency president, Australian John Fahey, welcomed the move and urged other football codes to follow suit.

Cycling adopted the ABP strategy in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal with 700 riders holding biological passports which are tested regularly.

ASADA officials are interviewing over 30 NRL players as part of their investigation into drug use in Australian sport.

-AAP

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