There is no doubt: athletes who push their performance up using banned substances must be prevented from claiming victory over their "clean" competitors. Whether at the Olympic Games, world championships or national competitions, doping is not only a breach against sporting fairness it can also have penal consequences; therefore the transporting of doping tests is a very responsible task and also a logistical challenge - a challenge which the specialist logistics service provider, time:matters successfully meets in collaboration with Lufthansa Cargo.
Hardly any major sporting event has been staged over the last decade without a doping scandal and this is despite the increasingly tighter control network in most types of sport. The only effective instrument to find the "black sheep" is still blood and urine samples which are taken from the athletes during training or during the course of a competition. In the process the proper transportation of doping tests from where they are taken to the test laboratory is a basic prerequisite for later validity, above all for how well the test results stand up legally. If the strict regulations for the continuous cooling of tests are ignored, the investigation could lead to a false result which could have devastating consequences for all involved. Blood requires a transport temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius maximum, urine must be transported at normal room temperature.
time:matters is one of the few logistics companies who specialise in transporting cooled doping tests across Europe and between continents. The special service provider is certified as an "anti-doping transporter" and works in athletics, triathlon and cycling. "Depending on the country the athlete comes from or where the competition is taking place, our client is either an anti-doping agency, a sports association, or a competition organiser", explains time:matters - managing director Franz-Joseph Miller. Depending on the type of sport this requires either a blood or urine sample.
"Sometimes though", says Miller, "both are called for." What is important: none of these bodily fluids are subject to the IATA "Dangerous Goods Regulations" and also time:matters doping test transport has nothing to do with the so-called "UN 3373" transport of goods ("potential infectious biological substances"). Doping tests are handed over to the logistics experts from New-Isenburg almost every day. They use their global network for the huge variety of transport solutions which not only allows the combination of different carriers but also personal door-to-door collection and drop off, thanks to close cooperation with numerous trained on site courier partners. As a member of the Lufthansa Cargo Group time:matters prefers to use the Lufthansa route network; this partnership has proved to be successful over many years with both European and worldwide traffic, not just with the transporting of doping tests.
"We are quicker than any other provider, thanks to the smooth cooperation with Lufthansa Cargo colleagues, which our same day service relies on", declares Franz-Joseph Miller. Why? Well, same day shipments profit from optimised ground handling because they are not treated as freight, they enjoy high loading priority for example.
The central elements of the successful partnership between time:matters and Lufthansa Cargo are uncompromising reliability and maximum flexibility in terms of time. In this way the testing of an athlete is usually "like a drugs bust": "In many cases we only find out just before when and how many tests need to collected from which location and where they have to be delivered to as quickly as possible," time:matters courier Christina Schenk describes the typical scenario. Generally the informant is one of the roughly 250 official doping control officers worldwide who are at the service of national anti-doping agencies.
time:matters has developed its own special packaging system for transporting doping tests. The one-way transport boxes are equipped with a temperature measuring and control system which measures the temperature every 30 minutes and at the same time records even the slightest fluctuation. A battery cools the content down to its set value of two to eight degrees within two minutes and maintains this temperature over the prescribed period of time of 48 hours. During the entire transport the temperature progress data is saved, the temperature is checked again on arrival at the laboratory. Locations in Germany, France and Spain: Christian Schenk and his colleagues most frequently collect doping tests from here. The destinations are usually in the same three countries plus also Belgium and Switzerland, wherever the most renowned doping laboratories are based. Samples, which are to be tested for homologous blood transfusion doping as well as EPO growth hormones which are particularly "popular" in cycling, are for example often flown to Lausanne in Switzerland, as the laboratory there is one of the few facilities worldwide which carries out such tests. This example of Lausanne clearly illustrates another immense advantage of the close cooperation between time:matters and Lufthansa Cargo: the destinations for doping tests also include cities, whose airports are not considered to be major international airports. The fact that Lufthansa Cargo also flies to such regional destinations is what makes time:matters doping test transport service possible at all. Franz-Joseph Miller sums it up perfectly: "Nothing can beat a close-knit destination network!" In most cases a transport box is given to the doping controller before the sample is taken.
"This is then returned under sometimes extremely "conspiratorial" circumstances", smiles time:matters courier Schenk; "Hotels, cafés, even petrol stations have sometimesbeen the setting for handing over the box!" Whatever the scenario, maximum flexibility is a permanent part of the service. Their aim: the quick as well as safe transport of equally as important and highly sensitive chilled products.