Urinalysis – PEDs and Blood Doping?


By Paul Strauss – There has been a not so subtle carefully orchestrated shift in emphasis concerning the current mess in boxing. The predominant question seems to rest with whether urinalysis is inadequate in detecting certain performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) or blood doping/packing techniques?

If there is validity to the question that current testing methods are inadequate, then why in heavens name haven’t those in authority required random blood testing long before this? That seems to be the important question that hasn’t been asked..

Fans have been left with the idea there is some newly discovered flaw in the system, but, how can that be? If that’s the case, then more questions come to mind. For example, does it mean those in authority now agree there is a flaw in the system? If they do admit there is a flaw, how long have they known about it? Why have they refused to action before now? Is there negligence or incompetence involved?

There’s good reason to believe the answer is no is each instance. For example, there have been well known situations in boxing where a fighter has been busted by post-fight urinalysis for having things in his system ranging from marijuana to steroids.

The current claim is that some PEDs cannot be detected by urinalysis alone. Undoubtedly that is true. Don’t take my word for it. Check around for information readily available to anyone. I’m betting you will find out blood testing will not reveal some PEDs or blood doping techniques either.

The truth is that although urinalysis might not reveal a PED or blood doping technique used, it can reveal the effect. There should in most cases be evidence such as elevated levels of testosterone, or abnormal levels of red blood cells, etc. Again, this information is no secret and is readily available from multiple sources. Look it up.

We all know that blood in the body runs through the kidneys where it is cleansed and urine is expelled. As a result, all kinds of things show up in the urine. For example, if a fighter was engaged in blood doping or blood packing, (injecting himself with his own previously drawn blood the day/night of the fight) his post fight urinalysis would reveal elevated levels of red blood cells. The same is true if he tried to accomplish the same thing artificially using some kind of PED.

Here’s the scary part. Any fighter or athlete contemplating blood doping should understand that it is very dangerous. They might think, “I’ll have more red blood cells, hemoglobin and oxygen in my system. That’s good, right? The more oxygen, the more energy the fighter has and the faster he/she recovers from fatigue. So, it’s a good thing, right? Wrong! The down side is the potential grave danger involved when you couple thickening of the blood with the normal dehydration that takes place over the course of the bout. The result is risk of repeated strokes and even death. Anyone with common sense should understand that no amount of money, adulation or title would be worth the potential risk.

Getting back to the original question, it would appear urinalysis has been and still is sufficient. It’s not fool proof, but nothing is fool proof, and it should be reiterated that the testing of blood is not fool proof either. As proof of the validity of that statement, you should recall past negative news stories about certain well known athletes who have been tested repeatedly through about every testing method possible and came out clean. However, the stigma or black cloud remains because of negative publicity.

The bottom line in all this is that those in authority can do a great service by answering a few more questions, clarify a few things, and defend their position. What we need is someone like Jack Webb, who played a cop on the television series called Dragnet. He was fond of saying, “Just the facts, sir, just the facts!”