Preprint / Version 1

Competitive performance as a discriminator of doping status in elite athletes


  • James Hopker University of Kent
  • Jim Griffin
  • Laurentiu Hinoveanu
  • Jonas Saugy
  • Raphael Faiss



sports, modelling, biological passport, risk stratification, Bayesian, target testing, data analytics


As the aim of any doping regime is to improve sporting performance, it has been suggested that analysis of athlete competitive results might be informative in identifying those at greater risk of doping. This research study aimed to investigate the utility of a statistical performance model to discriminate between athletes who have a previous anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) and those who do not.
We analysed performances of male and female 100m and 800m runners obtained from the World Athletics database using a Bayesian spline model. Measures of unusual improvement in performance were quantified by comparing the yearly change in athlete's performance (delta excess performance) to quantiles of performance in their age matched peers from the database population. The discriminative ability of these measures was investigated using the area under the ROC curve (AUC) with the 50%, 75% and 90% quantiles of the population performance. The highest AUC values across age were identified for the model with a 75% quantile (AUC = 0.78-0.80). The results of this study demonstrate that delta excess performance was able to discriminate between athletes with and without ADRVs, and therefore could be used to assist in the risk stratification of athletes for anti-doping purposes.


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