About this Research Topic
The Athlete’s Biological Passport (ABP) is a strong tool for the indirect detection of blood doping. While doping aims at improving athletic performance but alters biomarkers measured in the ABP, exercise training is also known to influence these parameters. Conversely, variation in biomarkers observed in the ABP may coincide with improvement (or decrement) of athletic performance. Numerous studies have associated variations in biological parameters to performance alterations as either explaining variables or confounding factors. For example, endurance sports rely essentially on aerobic energy production (i.e., with oxygen) and maximal oxygen consumption is highly related to the athlete’s total hemoglobin mass. Besides, several analytic models allow to model performance capacity precisely from work capacity in several sports. In cycling for instance, power output is recorded extensively throughout training and races by a vast majority of athletes. This data is then often used to define peak power profiles to monitor training/racing load and adjust training programs to reach desired peak fitness at certain moments of the season. Interestingly, the ABP was first adopted in cycling by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and has provided an extended overview of the variations in hematological parameters in professional cyclists. These variations may be linked with differences in performance levels seen during races. However, to date, there is no conclusive evidence highlighting associations between variations in the ABP and performance changes in competitive athletes. Definitely, athletes who misuse doping substances do so to trigger physiological changes that provide physiological enhancements. Then doping could be detected from specifically selected biomarkers. Defining links between existing or new biomarkers and performance would thus represent as an attractive strategy for indirect detection of the use of doping substances or methods. The investigation of confounding factors or performance variables in different sports that could be related to biomarkers ABP may strengthen the sensitivity and applicability of the ABP. The aim of this Research Topic is to collect new evidence defining associations between performance models from various sports and existing or novel biomarkers to strengthen the fight against doping.
Keywords: performance, doping, biological passport, biomarker