The advances made throughout this partnership will support the wider anti-doping community.
This case study originally appeared on page 57 State of the Relationship 2014. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.
For the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, King’s College London worked in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline to provide world-class antidoping laboratory services. This was the first time a pharmaceutical company and a university had partnered to provide this service for any Olympic Games since SmithKline Beecham supported the Atlanta Organising Committee in 1996 and worked with the Morehouse School of Medicine.
The Drug Control Centre at King’s College London, led by Professor David Cowan, is the only World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in the UK. It is a world-leading centre with a strong track record in anti-doping control, analysing samples collected from athletes competing in major sporting events and training worldwide. However, there was insufficient space to be able to equip and staff the size of operation required for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Using GSK’s project management experience, the pharmaceutical company worked with King’s, LOCOG and UPS, the logistics company responsible for sample delivery to the laboratory, to understand the details of the project. A project management team was put in place and a detailed plan was developed and implemented. GSK’s experience of large-scale operations also provided King’s with a huge resource base that it would otherwise have had to find elsewhere.
Communication and knowledge-sharing was key: King’s brought scientific expertise in relation to antidoping and GSK’s support allowed testing to be run on an industrial scale, bringing an understanding of how to run a facility 24 hours a day and manage effective and efficient shift changes.
Method development, a system by which tests are validated to provide reliable data for regulatory submissions, was an important feature for a researchfocused institution such as King’s, and as such this was encouraged and supported by the partners. A number of new technologies were also introduced to test for banned substances.
During the London 2012 Games, a team of more than 150 anti-doping scientists analysed over 6,250 samples at the hi-tech WADA-accredited satellite laboratory in Harlow making it the largest project of its kind to date.
King’s and GSK shared their combined knowledge and lessons learnt with the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees and WADA, as well as the Rio 2016 team, which they hope will provide a blueprint for future Games.
GSK’s involvement with London 2012 brought the company closer to the world of anti-doping. It signed a groundbreaking agreement with WADA to provide information on medicines in development, in order that tests for the possible abuse of such substances can be identified in advance and ensure that antidoping is ahead of the curve.
Science played a key role in assuring that the Games were as clean as possible and conducted to the highest ethical standards – the successful partnership between King’s College London and GSK enabled this to happen.