The Influence of Training Load on Hematological Athlete Biological Passport Variables in Elite Cyclists

The Influence of Training Load on Hematological Athlete Biological Passport Variables in Elite Cyclists / Tiffany Astolfi, Fabienne Crettaz von Roten, Bengt Kayser, Martial Saugy, Raphael Faiss. - Frontiers in Sports and Active Living (2021) 18 March)

  • PMID: 33817634
  • PMCID: PMC8012815
  • DOI: 10.3389/fspor.2021.618285


The hematological module of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) is used in elite sport for antidoping purposes. Its aim is to better target athletes for testing and to indirectly detect blood doping. The ABP allows to monitor hematological variations in athletes using selected primary blood biomarkers [hemoglobin concentration (Hb) and reticulocyte percentage (Ret%)] with an adaptive Bayesian model to set individual upper and lower limits. If values fall outside the individual limits, an athlete may be further targeted and ultimately sanctioned. Since (Hb) varies with plasma volume (PV) fluctuations, possibly caused by training load changes, we investigated the putative influence of acute and chronic training load changes on the ABP variables. Monthly blood samples were collected over one year in 10 male elite cyclists (25.6 ± 3.4 years, 181 ± 4 cm, 71.3 ± 4.9 kg, 6.7 ± 0.8 5-min maximal power output) to calculate individual ABP profiles and monitor hematological variables. Total hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) and PV were additionally measured by carbon monoxide rebreathing. Acute and chronic training loads-respectively 5 and 42 days before sampling-were calculated considering duration and intensity (training stress score, TSSTM). (Hb) averaged 14.2 ± 0.0 (mean ± SD) g.dL-1 (range: 13.3-15.5 g·dl-1) over the study with significant changes over time (P = 0.004). Hbmass was 1030 ± 87 g (range: 842-1116 g) with no significant variations over time (P = 0.118), whereas PV was 4309 ± 350 mL (range: 3,688-4,751 mL) with a time-effect observed over the study time (P = 0.014). Higher acute-but not chronic-training loads were associated with significantly decreased (Hb) (P <0.001). Although individual hematological variations were observed, all ABP variables remained within the individually calculated limits. Our results support that acute training load variations significantly affect (Hb), likely due to short-term PV fluctuations, underlining the importance of considering training load when interpreting individual ABP variations for anti-doping purposes.

Original document


Research / Study
18 March 2021
Astolfi, Tiffany
Crettaz von Roten, Fabienne
Faiss, Raphael
Kayser, Bengt
Saugy, Martial
Cycling (UCI) - International Cycling Union
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Université de Lausanne (UNIL) - University of Lausanne
Doping classes
M1. Manipulation Of Blood And Blood Components
Medical terms
Blood doping
Athlete Biological Passport (ABP)
Document category
Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
14 April 2021
Date of last modification
23 April 2021
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