A process to select new projects to fund through the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) anti-doping research programme has begun, with applications to officially open on March 1.
A fund of $10 million (£6.5 million/€9 million) was unveiled last year by the IOC in order to fund research seeking to protect clean athletes.
Complementing, but not duplicating, existing anti-doping research programmes is a key aim for the project, which is seeking innovative and novel research in all areas of anti-doping, which “have the potential to lead to a significant change in the way programmes are carried out and will have a direct impact on the daily life of the clean athlete”.
Applications will remain open for two months until May 2.
Projects must be “athlete-centred”, although this can involve both science and social research.
Particular priority will be given to research that could lead to a “transformational change in, and enhancement of, the life of clean athletes”; as well as those that focus on the “effectiveness of prevention strategies, including changing the behaviour of athletes and entourages, with the aim of reducing the risk and exposure to doping and supplement abuse”.
Those that evaluate the efficiency of current anti-doping programmes will also be taken seriously, including more accurate measures of prevalence, or that develop alternative approaches to anti-doping.
Multi-centre and collaborative projects are encouraged, as well as proposals from scientists who have never before been involved in anti-doping research.
A statement released here today also made clear that some areas will not be considered favourably.
This includes funding the work of commercial companies as well as routine anti-doping programmes. such as the training of doping control personnel, and research that should be the responsibility of other bodies.
A repledging of their “zero-tolerance” attitude against doping was emphasised within the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform process, although the body, like many other arbiters in the sports world, have faced criticism from some quarters for not backing up these strong words.
Seven “innovative” research programmes were chosen to be supported last year.
These involved two in Britain: studying “doping confrontation efficacy” at the University of Birmingham and a “Clean Sport Bystander Intervention Programme” at Leeds Beckett University.
Studies in Australia were also selected: attempting to establish the “intention to dope” through interviewing techniques at Brisbane’s James Cook University, on “low-volume blood sample kits” at the National Measurement Institute and on development and evaluation of an anti-doping intervention app targeting the psychological variables that make an athlete susceptible to doping at Curtin University.
The remaining two involved institutions in Spain: Improving compliance with blood testing at the Fundació Institut Mar d’Investigacions and considering “massive expression analysis” to identify doping, a Spanish Olympic Committee project undertaken in collaboration with IMDEA Nanociencia.