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Pre - Podium

Pre-Podium is a drug testing kit designed to improve the athlete anti-doping testing experience, with a particular focus on democratising the testing process to make it more inclusive for women.

  • A urine sample being distributed from the collection vessel into the two transport containers

  • A video comparing the process of using existing equipment with the updated process using Pre-Podium

    A video comparing the process of using existing equipment with the updated process using Pre-Podium

  • A condensed summary of the main pain points Pre-Podium was designed to mitigate

  • Early brainstorming and ideation sketches, functional models, and an image of roleplay testing

  • Higher-resolution prototypes, a test rig used for evaluating prototypes, and early DFM sketches.

  • Exploded view outlining the components involved and processes used. All components snap fit together

What it does

Athlete drug testing is currently a very unpleasant experience. Pre-podium makes the process easier, quicker, and less messy. It gives athletes more peace of mind and autonomy during testing, whilst still meeting the stringent standards for urine collection.

Your inspiration

I was inspired to look into the topic of sports drug testing after hearing one of my friends recount his experience. Early research opened my eyes to the stressful, uncomfortable, and sometimes traumatic experience that thousands of athletes, including school-aged, and Para athletes, go through every year. I saw this as an opportunity to develop new testing equipment that significantly improves the process for athletes, as well as for the doping control staff and laboratory technicians involved.

How it works

The Pre-Podium drug testing kit is a product system with three items within it: an ergonomic collection vessel and two tamper-evident transport bottles. After using the collection vessel to collect a urine sample, the athlete places it on top of the pair of transport bottles. By pressing the tabs on either side of the collection vessel the athlete can distribute the correct amount of sample into each bottle. Once the sample has been distributed, the collection vessel is disposed of and lids can be screwed onto the bottles. Orange tamper-evident locking pins are pressed down through the lid and snap into place, locking the bottles closed. The bottles are then packaged and sent to the laboratory. Here they can be frozen for storage or opened for testing by cutting through the locking pins. A key thing to note is that this product works within the existing testing process and doesn't require any major changes to be implemented.

Design process

The project began with a sizeable research phase. Initially, desk research was carried out before moving into a series of primary research interviews with athletes competing at a range of levels from school to the Paralympics, as well as with anti-doping staff. This research phase uncovered a variety of information and insights, including the key pain points that the Pre-Podium system is designed to mitigate. The design phase started with participatory ideation exercises, working with athletes and anti-doping staff to brainstorm a variety of unique solutions. Functional models of feasible ideas were mocked up and evaluated, using roleplay to converge down to one selected concept. This concept was developed iteratively with sketches, CAD, and both hand-crafted and 3D-printed prototypes. Test rigs and roleplay were useful for evaluating iterations whilst working within the university’s ethics constraints. Feedback from anti-doping staff and athletes was an essential part of the whole design process and helped to inform design decisions from the start through to the end. A significant amount of time was also spent refining the design to make the components more manufacturable and cheaper to produce - increasing the likelihood of it being adopted by anti-doping organisations.

How it is different

Pre-Podium's athlete-centric approach sets it apart from current anti-doping kits, offering distinct advantages: 1: The collection vessel minimises the risk of accidental urination onto athletes' hands - a common issue women face with current kits. 2: The novel distribution method eliminates the need to pour urine between containers, providing various benefits: A. enhances autonomy for athletes, especially those with physical disabilities, enabling them to self-distribute samples and reducing reliance on anti-doping staff. B. Reduces the chances of urine spills, improving hygiene, and reducing clean-up time and thus total test time. C. Reduces risk of sample contamination during distribution. 3: A less intimidating aesthetic compared to existing kits. 4: Compared to the main kit on the market, Pre-Podium bottles use fewer parts and materials, and swap high carbon footprint materials for lower footprint alternatives, reducing environmental impact per kit.

Future plans

Sport is meant to be fun, and testing is supposed to protect athletes, not harm them. I am hoping that the Pre-Podium kit can enter the market and provide all athletes the confidence to enjoy their sport, without the fear of a distressing testing process hovering over them. Athletes and anti-doping staff have expressed strong positive feedback and interest in the Pre-Podium kit and I am currently exploring commercialising the project. Simultaneously I am working on further developing the kit with a particular focus on reducing its environmental impact - an aspect of the design that I think has the potential to be pushed further.


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