Breath test aims to combat doping

The breathalyser is a familiar tool for the police RDB

Swiss researchers have developed a new rapid test using a breathalyser in a bid to prevent illegal doping among athletes.

This content was published on September 21, 2007

The method will reveal within seconds whether sportsmen and women are clean and will dispense with the days of waiting entailed in current tests on blood and urine samples.

The test subject blows into a special apparatus and an analysis of their breath appears on a screen, giving a complete record of their metabolism.

"The speed makes it revolutionary. It takes only seconds to get the data," Renato Zenobi, professor of Analytical Chemistry at Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology told public television.

The researchers have applied for a grant from the Federal Sport Office to start field tests on the equipment.

But Zenobi sees a wider use for the trial.

"There are lots of possibilities. We are working on this at the moment, to see if it can be used to test for street drugs or party drugs – ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis. As far as the chemistry is concerned that should all be quite possible," he said.


The fight against doping in sport is taken very seriously in Switzerland.

Sport Minister Samuel Schmid told Swiss parliament on Thursday that he wanted Switzerland to join Unesco's anti-doping convention.

He criticised the practice of doping - both for its unfairness and for its impact on health.

"It is unacceptable that parents do not want to encourage their children to take part in serious sport simply because they worry that they will come into contact with this kind of poison," he told the Senate.

An independent National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) is due to start operation in Switzerland in 2008.

swissinfo with agencies

Doping in the Tour de France

The 2006 winner of the Tour de France cycle race, Floyd Landis, was stripped of his title for a doping offence.

He lost an appeal to the American Arbitration Association against the ruling on September 20.

Landis was thrown out of Switzerland's Phonak team as a result of the charges and Phonak owner dissolved the team at the end of 2006.

The 2007 Tour de France was also marked by doping scandals, with several leading riders thrown out while it was in progress.

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