Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses

Research and Training Unit Services FAQ

 

The Swiss Doping Analysis Laboratory, the only anti-doping laboratory in Switzerland, can report on urine analyses within 10 working days of receiving samples. In addition, in recent years the LAD has acquired extensive experience in the management and development of methods related to blood samples. Because of its renown reputation it plays an active part in analyses and expert evaluations at many national and international sporting events.

As an anti-doping laboratory, all of LAD operations are validated by the accreditation delivered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on a yearly basis. The Agency delivers the accreditation certificate under the following conditions:

  • ISO 17025 accreditation applicable to testing laboratories. This accreditation was granted to LAD by the Swiss Accreditation Service (SAS) in December 2000 (STS register of LAD in french).
  • Compliance with the WADA International Standards for Laboratories (ISL)
  • Successful completion of all proficiency tests

In addition to laboratory services stipulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the missions of the LAD include a teaching role at the Faculty of Biology and Medicine (FBM) and at the Institute of Sport Sciences and Physical Education (ISSEP) of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Lausanne.

The academic membership of the LAD stimulates research and development activities which are also recognized in the anti-doping field. The most recent publications based on researches carried out at the LAD are accessible on the website.

 

Main goals

  • Fully comply with the international ISO 17025 : 2005 standards pertaining to lab competence in order to maintain LAD accreditation.
  • Provide our clients precise, reliable and timely results.
  • Encourage communication with our clients, other laboratories accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and all the different research teams that carry out projects similar to ours. Such communication takes place in the context of various consulting activities and services rendered  by LAD in different disciplines and thanks to numerous collaborations. In all cases, ethical standards and confidentiality are guaranteed, as defined in Appendix B of the WADA International Standards for Laboratories (ISL).
  • Comply with good laboratory practices.
  • Maintain objectivity and impartiality.
  • Permanently upgrade our technical and scientific skills.
  • Maintain an excellent team spirit in our laboratory that allies individual motivation to collective commitment to ensure the very best performance of each member of the laboratory.

LAD has no privileged relation with any political, administrative or economical organization or movement. The laboratory does not conduct any surveillance, control or inspection tasks. Its role is limited to that of a consultant or expert.

LAD is fully committed to respecting all the procedures and rules of quality control and professional ethics. By doing so, it guarantees complete impartiality and independence from its clients.

 

Statistics

Every year, each anti-doping laboratoriy in the world is required to provide their statistics to the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Agency then compiles all the results of the samples collected and analyzed worldwide.

The mere number of samples analyzed by an anti-doping laboratory does not necessarily reflect its importance in the fight against doping. Research and development, along with  the scientific publications published by the laboratory’s scientists also play a major role.

 

Historic

1990: LAD is born

The decision to build a laboratory that could analyze doping substances in the urine of athletes was taken by the Vaud State Council back in 1989. It was a sound decision. Indeed, at that time, the only anti-doping laboratory in Switzerland, which belonged to the Federal School of Gymnastics located in Macolin, had just been shut down. The Institute of Legal Medicine of the Vaud Cantonal Hospices was asked to take over its mission. This was a natural choice since the Institute hosted a renowned laboratory of toxicology that already conducted different analyses of toxic substances in forensic cases using the same techniques as those used in the anti-doping field. This decision was also supported by the fact that Lausanne hosted several international sports authorities, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and many international sports federations.

On January 1, 1990, the laboratory officially came into existence and hired the personne needed l (2 chemists, 1 biochemist, 2 lab assistants and 1 secretary) to implement the analytical techniques used in the fight against doping and to create the physical infrastructures for the laboratory's activities.

The laboratory was initially named the Anti-Doping Unit (UAD). It was an integral part of University Institute of Legal Medicine and was located in the Champ de l'Air buiding (old Cantonal Hospital), rue du Bugnon 21, Lausanne.

1992: IOC accreditation and first analyses

The laboratory was officially accredited by the IOC at the end of 1991. In March 1992, the real work began when the first samples were received from the Swiss Sports Association (ASS), the central sports organization, which was subsequently renamed the Swiss Olympic Association and later simply Swiss Olympic.

During the first year, some 1'500 samples were analyzed by the laboratory. In most cases, they were collected during Swiss sports events or international competitions organized in Switzerland.

The contacts established with the international federations based in Lausanne, in particular those with the International Cycling Union (UCI) were essential in helping the laboratory launch its analytical and research activities.

In 1996, endurance sports became strongly affected by erythropoietin doping. As a response, UAD launched its first experimental blood tests during the Tour de Suisse in collaboration with the UCI and the Association of Professional Cycling Teams. Prior to this landmark event, the fight against doping was limited to urine testing.

1997: First blood tests

In 1997, UAD became entitled to use the denomination "Swiss" and received a brand new name: the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses (LAD). UCI mandated LAD to carry out all blood testing during the major cycling races. These tests, also called health tests, were designed to counter if not to prevent entirely the use of EPO as a doping agent. This was a crucial development since no direct method for detecting recombinant EPO existed at the time.

These new activities brought about new developments and the involvement of new people. Indeed, the first blood tests carried out at the time served as the basis of what was to be known as the Athlete’s biological passport. At the same time, they laid the foundation for a long-term collaboration with the world of cycling. Ever since, LAD experts have been sharing their know-how with the biggest cycling competition events in the world (several world championships, the Olympic Games, all the Tour de France competitions since 1997, etc.)

1998: Nandrolone and soccer

During the 1998 Soccer World Cup in France, LAD was tasked by the FIFA to carry out an epidemiological study on the prevalence of nandrolone in the urines of the players. Thanks to this study, all concerned parties were assured that doping would not cause any problems during this major event. It also marked the beginning of a very fruitful collaboration with the FIFA’s medical research unit (F_MARC), with Professor Jiri Dvorak at its head.

The LAD received its quality accrediation ISO 17025 at the end of year 2000.  In 2001, the laboratory started implementing a method for detecting EPO in the urine. Thus, the first EPO-doping cases were uncovered in Lausanne. This EPO detection method, developed by the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory (an accredited laboratory near Paris, France), constituted a landmark in the fight against EPO abuse. LAD was a key player in the realisation of this significant achievement.

LAD's expertise for major sporting events

In 2002, FIFA mandated a LAD expert to set-up the first blood tests and EPO analyses during the World Cup in Japan and Korea.

In 2003, IAAF also chose LAD experts to organize and run blood tests for international athletics during various World Championships. The first round of tests were carried out during the 2003 World Cross Country Championship in Lausanne-La Broye in and during the 2003 Track World Championship in Paris. Ever since these landmark events, LAD has been assisting organizers of numerous major competitions (EURO 2004 in Portugal, Athens Olympic Games in 2004, IAAF  2005 World Championships in Helsinki and in Osaka in 2007,  2006 Turin Olympic Games and most of cycling World Championships in different disciplines since 1997) with a method for detecting homologous blood transfusions developed by LAD.

LAD today and tomorrow

In the spring of 2006, the laboratory moved to a more spacious location in Epalinges. The building hosts several biotech start-ups and other research units (see directions). The building infrastructures are supervized by the University of Lausanne Hospital Center (CHUV) and are designed to satisfy all the needs of its occupants. In 2008, LAD was designated  as the official testing laboratory for EURO 2008 organized jointly by Switzerland and Austria. To ensure excellence in LAD services during the event, the General Directorate of the Department of Health of the Canton of Vaud has committed significant additional resources to further improve the laboratory’s infrastructures.

The upcoming years will be crucial in shaping the future of the laboratory. The current and future stakes have never been so high and one’s ability to react rapidly and effectively in the fight against doping shall be determining. Genetic doping is an area of particular concern. It is only by developing appropriate tools, such as proteomics or metabolomics,  that LAD can remain one of the world’s best laboratories in the anti-doping field.