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The Science Behind Anti-Doping

Discover the life-cycle of a sample collected for anti-doping processes within sport, and the science behind it.

Urine samples A and B
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Learn the science behind the anti-doping process with King’s College London

This fascinating course will cover the life cycle of a sample (blood and urine) collected for anti-doping purposes within sport and explain the science behind the analytical processes involved.

Gain an understanding the WADA anti-doping system

After getting an overview of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), you’ll cover the prohibited drugs list and will get an insight into screening methods of both blood and urine.

You’ll also gain an understanding of the collaborations with WADA (World Anti-doping Agency), UKAD (UK Anti-Doping) and PCC (Partnership for Clean Competition), as well as high profile VIP sports professionals.

Discover how samples are tested and learn about the future of anti-doping

You’ll then see how an accredited anti-doping laboratory needs to meet the highest quality assurance standards in order to serve sporting bodies and professionals.

You’ll also learn how the samples tested and analysed, validated and confirmed, as well as which instruments and scientific processes are used throughout.

Before the course ends, you’ll cover a range of case studies and will gain an insight into future directions of research and development.

Get the know-how from the experts at the Drug Control Centre (DCC)

The internationally renowned Drug Control Centre (DCC) was founded in 1978 in association with the UK Sports Council, and since then has been at the forefront of advances in anti-doping science. It is an integral part of King’s Forensics, a specialised research department at King’s College London.

You’ll be taught by academic and teaching experts who also teach on the postgraduate Master’s degree programmes in Analytical Toxicology and Forensic Science at King’s College London.


  • Week 1

    Introduction to anti-doping

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome to the course! This activity will give you an introduction to the team behind the course, the topics to be covered, and the athletes that we will be following over the next four weeks.

    • Who or what is WADA?

      This activity explains the role of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the independent international body established to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against doping in sport around the world.

    • Who or what is UKAD?

      This activity explains the role of UKAD in ensuring sports bodies in the UK are compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, and its responsibility for the implementation and management of the UK's National Anti-Doping Policy.

    • Sample collection

      In this activity, we will be exploring the process of sample collection, including transportation, and what happens on arrival at the Drugs Control Centre (DCC) laboratories.

    • Weekly wrap-up

      In this final activity of the week we summarise the process so far, check in on our athletes and review some of the key points of learning.

  • Week 2

    Pre-analysis, screening methods, instruments and drug categories

    • Welcome to week 2

      This activity introduces you to the week ahead, and we revisit our athletes to see how they got on at The Global Games. Week 2 covers the type of tests undertaken on the samples received from our athletes.

    • Quality control

      This activity sets out the context of the quality system within which screening and testing take place.

    • Urine screening and testing process

      This activity explores approaches to the screening and testing of urine samples.

    • The science behind screening and testing

      This section gives you a more detailed look into urine screening and testing procedures. We'll introduce you to some of the main scientific processes and principles used to analyse and interpret samples by our trained scientists.

    • Initial test results

      In this activity, we look at the interpretation of the initial urine screen for our athletes and see what our analysis reveals.

    • Weekly wrap up

      In this activity, we recap on where our athletes are now and reflect on the learning key points of the week.

  • Week 3

    The science behind immunoassays test and how they are used in anti-doping laboratories

    • Welcome to week 3

      We revisit our athletes to see how they have been impacted by the results of their drugs tests and look ahead to what we will be covering in week 3.

    • Misuse of growth hormones

      In this activity, you will meet our laboratory operations manager and you will find out more about growth hormones and their use in performance enhancement.

    • Blood doping

      Blood doping is banned by WADA. In this activity, we will look at different ways in which the Drug Control Centre detects doping in blood.

    • Athlete biological passport (ABP) and the athlete profile management unit (APMU)

      In this activity, you will explore the different elements of the athlete biological passport (ABP) which is, in part, a long-term approach to identifying blood doping.

    • Results and adverse analytical findings

      In this activity, we look at the results of the analysis and discuss what happens next for our four athletes in light of their results.

    • Weekly wrap up

      This activity summarises the week and looks at it in the context of a few case studies.

  • Week 4

    Catching the cheats: review of real life doping cases and the dark side of sport

    • Welcome to week 4

      In this activity, we introduce the final week of our course, have a brief recap on what we have covered so far and check in with our four athletes from the Global Games.

    • Case studies

      In this activity, we look at some case studies where the testing process has helped remove athletes who use substances to achieve results that would otherwise be beyond their capabilities.

    • Update on our athletes

      In this activity, we review the laboratory findings of our athletes and reflect upon the reasons for doping in sport.

    • Future directions and research

      In this activity, we look at long-term storage and the concept of retrospective testing and future directions for the anti-doping field.

    • Course wrap-up

      In this activity, we summarise and conclude the course.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the role of the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and the reason why the organisation is so important to everyone involved in sport worldwide.
  • Discuss how the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) provides a robust system for ensuring that quality assurance standards are maintained using validated scientific methods for testing sports samples fairly and appropriately.
  • Explore the science behind the methodology used by an accredited anti-doping laboratory to meet the international standard for laboratories (ISL).
  • Investigate the drugs that are present on the WADA Prohibited List and what the specialist accredited status of the laboratories permitted to carry out testing means in practice.
  • Explore the relationship between UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the London Drug Control Centre (WADA accredited laboratory).
  • Explore current and future practices that are supporting research to improve the capabilities for identifying people who are cheating.

Who is the course for?

This course is likely to be appealing to non-health professionals, such as journalists and bloggers, as well as amateur athletes, coaches, and others involved in the world of sport.

It’s also suited to anyone who has been interested in the latest doping controversies around the world.

Who developed the course?

King's College London

King’s College London, established in 1829 and a founding college of the University of London, is one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities, based in the very heart of London.

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