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WADA directs accredited labs to modify procedure for testing nandrolone

WADA has asked its labs to conduct ``stability tests'' if there is a positive nandrolone finding.

LONDON: The World Anti-Doping Agency has told its accredited laboratories to modify testing procedures for the banned steroid nandrolone.

In the last several months, WADA said it has come across ``very rare cases'' of so-called ``unstable urine'' which could produce a positive finding for nandrolone.

WADA has asked its labs to conduct ``stability tests'' if there is a positive nandrolone finding. If these tests reveal unstable urine, the positive result will be annulled.

In a statement, WADA defined unstable urine as a chemical reaction that ``may occur in a vial containing urine.''

WADA director general David Howman said that the likelihood of athletes testing positive for nandrolone because of unstable urine was between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000.

``Well I don't think you can ever say `no' to that,'' he said. ``But can you actually go and look and see if that's a possibility? The answer to that is also `no.'''

``It's a horrible answer, but one that is inevitable in advancing science. And we are a transparent body.''

Asked if WADA stood behind its previous tests, Howman replied: ``Totally, totally.''

Nandrolone has produced a spate of positive tests in several sports around the world in the last several years. In many cases, athletes claimed they ingested the banned substance unknowingly in nutritional supplements.

Under WADA rules, athletes face a two-year ban for a positive doping test.

Howman said there was no way to retest so-called A and B samples, which are supposed to be destroyed after analysis.

``We've got no physical, legal, or practical way of going backwards,'' he said over phone from WADA headquarters in Montreal. ``Everything has been opened, analysed and tested. There is no sample C, if you like.''

In 2004, WADA's 33 accredited labs worldwide found traces of nandrolone in about 300 of 170,000 tests. In 2003, they found about 250 in 130,000 tests.

WADA said its threshold for determining a positive nandrolone finding remained at 2 nanograms per millilitre. Reports in Britain over the weekend suggested the level had been increased to 10 nanograms per millilitre. — AP

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