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Drug Control Centre

DCC for Kings Forensics

Background

The internationally renowned King’s College London Drug Control Centre (DCC) was founded in 1978, and since then has been at the forefront of introducing advances in anti-doping science. It is the only WADA accredited laboratory in the UK, providing anti-doping analysis across a range of sports, analysing both domestic and international athletes.  The DCC was the first International Olympic Committee/WADA accredited laboratory to achieve ISO 17025 accreditation (UK Accreditation Service, UKAS) as a testing laboratory. Our staff have many years’ experience working in the field of anti-doping and are passionate about protecting both the integrity of sport and the health of athletes. 

 The DCC carries out bioanalytical research into the areas especially of drug metabolism and detection of substances in the human body, with a selected list of publications from the DCC available here. In addition to this list, publications relating to individual staff are available on individual staff pages. The Centre also carries out work and consultancy services for the police, solicitors and the coroner. Our analytical staff are security protected; if you wish to contact us please go through Dr Alan Brailsford or Professor Kim Wolff who will manage all incoming enquiries.

Our analytical staff are security protected; if you wish to contact a member of staff please email one of the office contacts who will manage all incoming inquiries.

The Drug Control Centre 
King's College London 
Franklin-Wilkins Building 
150 Stamford Street 
London SE1 9NH 
Map 

Tel: 020 7848 4848 
Fax: 020 7848 4980

Office Contacts:

 EA to Professor Kim Wolff, MBE               

Credo Mpaku credo.mpaku@kcl.ac.uk

Tel: 020 7848 4865

 

Finance and Contracts   

Gemma Marchand gemma.marchand@kcl.ac.uk

Tel: 020 7 848 4880

 

General Enquiries     

Adrian Smith adrian.1.smith@kcl.ac.uk            

Tel: 020 7848 4848

We encourage feedback regarding our service. Please email General Enquiries and state whether you require a reply.  Your comments will be copied to the Director.

Our history

The Drug Control Centre at King’s College London was established in 1978, in association with the UK Sports Council. It was the first ever-human sports drug-testing laboratory outside of an Olympic Games, but the need for such a Centre was clear given the prevalence in the use of performance enhancing drugs such as steroids in professional sports during this era. The Centre was utilised heavily by UK organisations in the run up to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and went on to become a global success.

 

London Olympics 2012 and its legacy

The Drug Control Centre ran an independent anti-doping facility for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, operating from a satellite laboratory accredited by the WADA. The laboratory was the result of a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and King’s, and was based at one of GSK’s UK research and development sites. Led by Professor David Cowan, Director of the Drug Control Centre thousands of samples were analysed throughout the Games with the laboratory in operation 24 hours a day.

The scale of the laboratory operation required a large increase in the analytical capacity. Therefore experts from around the world travelled to the facility to offer the benefit of their expertise. Furthermore, around 100 temporary analysts were trained to work for the duration of the Games, many of whom were students who were able gain valuable lab experience. Using its experiences of London 2012 the DCC was able to assist in preparation for Rio 2016, working closely with King’s partner Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and its Laboratório Brasileiro de Controle de Dopagem (LBCD) to share knowledge and help ensure that the testing at the summer’s Games was a success.

 This collaboration was also a success for all concerned with staff from both organisations able to spend time in each others’ laboratory, facilitating further collaboration, knowledge exchange and friendship. For further information please see this interview with Professor Francisco Radler de Aquino Neto, Head of the LBCD. 

 

The McLaren Investigation

In July 2016 an investigation instigated by WADA, and led by an Independent person Richard McLaren, into allegations of doping in Russia was published, with a follow up report released in December that year. The report was wide ranging and covered in detail methodologies that had been used to facilitate the use of banned substances by athletes without them giving a positive anti-doping test. The evidence used to underpin the report was comprehensive and included witness interviews, review of documentation, cyber analysis and the laboratory analysis of suspect samples, which was conducted within the DCC in collaboration with its King’s Forensics colleagues from DNA at King’s.

 In several cases, the DNA profile generated from the urine sample did not match the profile of the athlete who was recorded as providing the sample, with some urine from female athletes also generating a male DNA profile.

It was also noted that 6 samples contained sodium concentrations which significantly exceeded the levels produced by the human body. This was significant as whistleblowers claimed during interview that salt was added to some urine samples in order to make the specific gravity of the “clean” urine match the “dirty” urine which it was replacing.

Today the DCC at King's is one of the world's foremost WADA accredited laboratories, with vast experience in successfully delivering analysis for major sporting events and International Games. The Centre is contracted to undertake the drug testing of professional athletes under the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Testing Programme.

Accreditation

The Drug Control Centre is accredited by both WADA and the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) as a testing laboratory, in accordance with ISO 17025.

 The Centre was accredited to the ISO Guide 25 quality standard (the predecessor to ISO 17025) in February 1997, being the first International Olympic Committee/WADA accredited laboratory to achieve this distinction.

Education

The DCC has played an active part in teaching within King’s, with staff being integral to the establishment of the MSc programme in Analytical Toxicology. This programme is highly successful with strong links with industry. Staff also continue to contribute significantly to the MSc in Forensic Science.

 In 2018, a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) was launched with the DCC playing an active role in the course successfully launched again in 2019.  

The DCC as an integral part of King’s Forensics, a teaching and research unit within the Department Analytical, Environmental & Forensic Science, School Population Health & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine.

Experience 

The DCC has been  responsible for anti-doping services at several major international events including  the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2002 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2006 Asian Games. 

Additionally staff, have travelled to and supported many of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games in the last thirty five years, such as the events held in Beijing, (2008), Turin (2006), Athens (2004), Salt Lake City (2002) Sydney (2000), Calgary (1988) and Sarajevo (1984).. Furthermore, staff were able to utilise their experience from 2012 to support the WADA accredited laboratory in Rio de Janeiro in their preparations for the Olympic Games in 2016. In addition to travelling to Rio in the build-up to the Games, many of the staff were seconded to the Rio laboratory during the event to assist with the operation of the facility during this period.

Key achievements

The Drug Control Centre benefits from being part of a multi-disciplinary university with strong links with physicians at the NHS Foundation Trust hospitals associated with King’s Health Partners and as such the DCC has contributed significantly across many areas of research with many publications. For example, the Centre can claim a number of significant firsts in the development of new tests for substances on the WADA prohibited list:

  • First tests for amphetamines
  • First tests for anabolic steroids
  • First controls for Human chorionic gonadotropi (hCG)  
  • First controls for the steroid dihydrotestosterone 

In addition, the DCC conducted the first pilot study to propose possible markers to detect human growth hormone (hGH) administration by professional sports competitors: a compound capable of enhancing muscle and bone growth and therefore having significant potential for performance enhancement.

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