hair sample testing

Our International Anti-Doping Rule Violation Lawyers Share How Hair Sample Testing Can Benefit Athletes Accused of Anti-Doping Rule Violations

As an elite athlete subject to the World Anti-Doping Code, you are strictly liable for everything you put in your body. If you unexpectedly test positive, you need to be familiar with ways in which you can clear your name to avoid being falsely accused of intentionally using a performance-enhancing substance.

The international anti-doping rule violation lawyers from Global Sports Advocates help athletes defend their right to compete when they’ve been falsely accused of using a banned substance to obtain a competitive advantage. Here, we discuss how hair sample testing can be a valuable tool in building a defense.

Hair Sample Testing Can Be Used to Clear Athletes Accused of Ingesting Banned Substances

Hair sample analysis offers a unique insight into an athlete’s consumption habits over an extended period of time. Each centimeter segment of a hair strand can reveal what substances an athlete was consuming for a particular month (i.e., 1 centimeter of hair from the root equates to the athlete’s previous month’s consumption habits; the segment between 1 – 2 centimeters equates to the athlete’s consumption habits the month before that (two months prior to the date their hair was collected), etc.).

Although a negative hair test cannot negate a positive urine or blood test, it can help establish that the prohibited substance found in your system came from some unintentional exposure to an environmental contaminant since positive hair tests typically come from either long-term or significant short-term usage of a banned substance.

Here’s a brief explanation of how the process works:

  1. A small sample of your hair, usually around 100-150 strands, is cut close to the scalp. This is important as the hair closest to the root contains the most recent drug use information.
  2. The hair sample is carefully sealed and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
  3. At the lab, the hair sample undergoes a decontamination process to remove any external drug residues on the surface of the hair.
  4. The hair is then segmented into sections, typically 1-2 cm long, to represent different time periods of potential drug use.
  5. Each segment is ground up and chemically treated to extract and isolate any drugs or drug metabolites present.
  6. The extracted drug compounds are analyzed using highly sensitive analytical techniques like mass spectrometry or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
  7. These instruments can detect and identify minute traces of a wide range of substances.
  8. Experts interpret the test results, taking into account factors like hair growth rate, dosage, and metabolism to determine the pattern and timeline of drug use.

Other Ways of Establishing That Contamination Caused a Positive Test Result

In addition to utilizing hair samples, the anti-doping lawyers at Global Sports Advocates may also use expert witnesses, polygraph tests, and supplement test results to provide proof that contamination caused your positive test for a banned substance.