Agilent drug tests to be used at 2010 World Cup

June 8, 2010 6:16:44 PM PDT
The newest drug testing technology from Santa Clara's Agilent Technologies will be used in South Africa as the World Cup soccer matches get underway on Friday.

About a third of all players in the World Cup will be randomly tested for drug use.

"We are looking for anything from anabolic steroids, THC, to drugs of abuse type compounds," Monti Benefiel from Agilent said.

Agilent has been part of world sports since the Munich Olympics in 1972. Its highly sensitive instruments are the same ones used to test for food safety, propellants in arson investigations and pesticide residue in soil and bodies of water.

In the case of World Cup soccer, vials of blood or urine will be collected and analyzed, with final results in under 24 hours.

"The sample can be injected into a glass capillary column. You heat the oven, and you force gas through the column. The sample makes its way through, and while it goes through, some components will stick to the sides of this glass," Benefiel said.

The components then go through a second process, involving a quadripole and the result is a graph that flags a banned substance.

Youth soccer is big in the Bay Area. John Jussen is president of Almaden Valley Youth Soccer League and welcomes World Cup drug testing.

"If the kids for one know that there is drug testing, they know that from a young age they shouldn't be participating in drugs, similar to a smoking campaign," he said.

Considering the benefit of the technology, it's not too expensive. Six units have been deployed to South Africa at a cost of $200,000 each.


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