Until now it has been impossible to detect athletes who try to cheat by having a blood transfusion using their own blood. Now, thanks to a new test kit from Pro Test Diagnostics based at the Umeå Biotech Incubator, this method of doping can be detected.
The test kit analyses the molecular fingerprint of the blood, which changes if it is stored in a frozen state outside the body. The test kit recognises any fingerprint changes and can, with a high degree of accuracy, determine whether or not an athlete has been blood doped.
The major investor of the company is Umeå based Fort Knox.
”Without the consistent support from Fort Knox we have not been able to take this project this far” says Christer Malm, a professor at the Section of Sports Medicine at Umeå University who is now stepping down as CEO of Pro Test.
“We’ve been planning this for some time. Now that the company has entered the production phase and is going to market and sell the test kit, we wanted a CEO who is ready for the challenges ahead. I myself will continue to conduct research within the company”, says Christer Malm.
The man stepping into the role is Anders Mannelqvist, a Doctor in Physics and former Head of Research & Development at Elpress AB in Kramfors. Anders was a part of the Swedish biathlon team for ten years and has himself competed at the Olympic games in Alberville in France in 1992.
“I have enjoyed a career as an elite athlete which I think will be vitally important in my new role. I know what endurance sports is all about and what it means to try to be the best in the world. It is important for some athletes to perform at the highest level – at whatever the cost – and during my years as an athlete I’ve had my suspicions that some competitors – and some countries – did not always play by the rules”, says Anders Mannelqvist.
“It feels like we have really found the ideal person for the CEO role. Thanks to Anders’s background in research and endurance sports we’re confident he will open many new doors for us. We are delighted with his recruitment”, says Christian Malm, who laughingly added:
“I also once competed in biathlon and Anders and I have raced against each other a few times. I’ll have to check now to see if I ever actually managed to beat him!”
Anders Mannelqvist officially took over as CEO of Pro Test on May 20th. His initial focus will be on meeting partners and prospective customers, such as the World Anti-Doping Association, the International Olympic Committee and various specialist sports associations who are interested in including the test kit in their screening processes.
“There is an enormous need for our test to be launched onto the market because of the large number of undetected cases of blood doping. There is incredible interest from many of the anti-doping organizations, such as the American Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC)”, says Christer Malm.
Right now, the first production run of the test kit is being made, which will then be tested and evaluated in doping laboratories in Stockholm and Oslo.
“This type of test kit has never been available before so it will be exciting to see what a difference it can make. I love challenges and this role feels incredibly exciting. Plus of course it feels good to actively work to combat doping”, says Anders Mannelqvist.
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