In a bid to gather more athlete samples while also greatly reducing human and financial testing resources, USA Weightlifting and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have partnered to implement a pilot Dried Blood Spot (DBS) testing program at an upcoming competition.
TAP™, the world’s first push-button blood collection device from Seventh Sense Biosystems, Inc. (7SBio), will make its debut at the Nike USA Weightlifting American Open Series 3 in Las Vegas this September, making it the most tested event in USA Weightlifting history. (Team USA)
TAP is a new FDA-approved blood collection device that collects a blood sample from the surface of the skin and stores the sample securely within the device with the push of a button. The process typically takes less than 5 minutes and is designed to detect and deter the use of WADA-prohibited substances. Per the Team USA announcement, the TAP device collects about 20 times less blood than normally collected in a single vial during traditional vein puncture.
Additionally, according to the USADA, DBS provides the organizations with ‘greater ability to detect and deter doping by allowing for more frequent blood collections and improved sample transportation.’ Samples can be stored and withdrawn for selective re-analysis any time for the next 10 years.
At least within USA Weightlifting, the TAP device will be used in conjunction with traditional urine and blood testing protocols, but the idea is that this method would be rolled out to other sports based on this initial pilot. The USADA introduced this type of testing to UFC athletes already earlier this year.
“We all know that blood collections can be unnerving,” said Dr. Matthew Fedoruk, USADA’s Senior Managing Director of Science and Research. “This new device offers far more flexibility than existing blood draw methods, while advancing a painless collection method. Currently, around 10 percent of total samples collected from participating athletes worldwide are blood, due in large part to the complexities and expense surrounding existing blood collection procedures. If this pilot program proves successful, we believe this innovation will drive advancement in global anti-doping practices, making it easier for athletes to give, and anti-doping agencies to collect, ship, and analyze, blood samples around the world.”
“The introduction of the TAP device in USADA’s anti-doping efforts will result in a simple, convenient, and virtually painless experience for all athletes who are subject to testing,” said Stuart Blitz, Chief Business Officer for Seventh Sense Biosystems. “We believe the TAP device will help advance clean competition on a global scale for generations to come, as the new standard in blood collection. Seventh Sense Biosystems is also developing TAP devices that will enable self-collection at home, in addition to quicker and easier blood collections across the medical and healthcare industry.”
You can see the TAP device in action via progression photos here.