Dried blood spot samples increase the means of doping control

The Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports FINCIS took a total of 2,875 doping samples in Finland and abroad in 2023. The means of doping control have increased as FINCIS has started to incorporate dried blood spot samples into the national testing programme.

In 2023, more than 2,800 doping samples were taken with almost an equal number of tests taken in- and out-of-competitions. More than 2,400 of the samples were taken under the FINCIS national testing programme, 159 of which were blood samples or dried blood spot samples.

Dried blood spot samples provide new means of doping control in addition to the traditional urine and venous blood samples. The advantage of dried blood spot samples is the ease and speed of the sample collection. Dried blood spot samples are taken from the upper arm or fingertip and the required amount of blood is significantly lower than the amount needed for venous blood samples. In addition to being easier for the athlete, the new testing method is also cost-effective as the transport of samples is cheaper when no cold transport is needed. Like urine and venous blood samples, dried blood spot samples are analysed in a doping testing laboratory accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

“The advantage of dried blood spot samples is that, in competition or camp conditions, they can be collected from a large number of athletes, that is, more athletes can be tested quickly. Although the sample can undergo a wide range of analyses, it does not replace other sample types, but, instead, complements doping tests,” says FINCIS’s Doping Control Manager Katja Huotari.

According to an athlete survey conducted by FINCIS last year, top Finnish athletes trust the national testing system and FINCIS’s operations. The survey targeted FINCIS’s testing pool athletes, who are a particular focus of doping control efforts and who are obligated to provide information regarding their whereabouts. Of the Finnish athletes who responded to the survey, 87% considered their own testing rate to be appropriate and 97% of the respondents considered the testing pool system to be an effective way in which to improve the status of clean athletes.

“Testing pool athletes are the most tested athletes and their assessment of the reliability of the testing system is an important measure of the success of cooperation with athletes. This is also illustrated by the fact that 97% of the athletes who responded to the survey and who belonged to the Registered Testing Pool rated the activities of the doping test team as good or very good,” Huotari says.

In 2023, the most tested sport under the national testing programme was athletics (264 samples). Other top tested sports included ice hockey (197), fitness (181) and cross-country skiing (172).

Five anti-doping rule violations were recorded under the FINCIS national doping test programme and, in addition, two cases are still pending.

Doping test statistics for 2023

Further information:
Susanna Sokka

FINCIS – Communication Manager
tel. +358 (0)40 740 7477