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Christiane Ayotte, World Leader in the Fight Against Doping, Retires  

May 31, 2024

Update : June 1, 2024

Professor Jean-François Naud succeeds her as head of INRS’s Doping Control Laboratory

Chemist, researcher, and professor Christiane Ayotte has announced her retirement. A leading figure in the fight against doping in sports, Professor Ayotte has headed the Doping Control Laboratory at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) for over 30 years. Professor Jean-François Naud, one of her close collaborators, has taken the reins of this state-of-the-art laboratory, which complies with the highest
scientific standards in its fight against doping in sports.

In fact, the INRS Doping Control Laboratory is the only laboratory in Canada accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In recent years, the lab has processed up to 35,000 samples to detect the use of banned substances for programs like the Canadian Anti-Doping Program in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport during the Vancouver Olympic Games, as well as for
international sports organizations.

For decades, Professor Ayotte has stood out worldwide through her dedication to the integrity of sport, the protection of athletes, and the advancement of scientific knowledge in this ever-evolving field

“When I did my post-doctorate in the ’80s, INRS turned out to be the university that offered me the most opportunities. I’m very grateful to this institution, which has always supported me in my work and in the pursuit of this unconventional career. I pursued science out of a desire for emancipation, and I hope I’ve been able to inspire women along the way” 

Christiane Ayotte, retired INRS professor and world expert in doping control.

INRS would like to salute Professor Ayotte’s remarkable career and her
invaluable contribution to Quebec society, to the sporting world, and to an
entire generation of scientists. 

“With her cutting-edge expertise, determination, and integrity, Christiane Ayotte’s laboratory has become a model for all doping control laboratories around the world. Her achievements and remarkable career are a source of immense pride for our university and its community”

Luc-Alain Giraldeau, Chief Executive Officer of INRS.

A builder of INRS

Christiane Ayotte became a professor at INRS in 1993, after working there as a postdoctoral researcher starting in 1983 and then as a research associate. She was appointed head of the Doping Control Laboratory in 1991.

At the time, she was primarily interested in characterizing the urinary metabolites of anabolic steroids, and this led to the development of a detection method based on mass spectrometry. Her research work at INRS’s Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie Research Centre in Laval has played a major role in improving doping detection methods.

As a member of several WADA working groups and committees, Professor Ayotte helped draft the international standard and technical documents governing the anti-doping tests carried out in accredited laboratories.

The researcher was also invited as a scientific expert by the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission at the Salt Lake City, Beijing, London, Sochi, and Rio Olympic Games and has served on the World Athletics Anti-Doping Commission. Her expertise is sought by international sports authorities when doping offences are challenged, and she has testified in over a hundred cases brought before arbitration tribunals over the years.

Her scientific expertise and extensive experience have made her a key figure in the sports media landscape, with several thousand interviews to her credit. National and international media call upon her to act as a reference when doping cases occur.

A successful career

Over the years, Professor Ayotte’s exemplary work has earned her many
awards and distinctions, including the title of Scientist of the Year from Radio-Canada in 1999. In addition, she was named a member of the Université du Québec’s Cercle d’excellence in 2000, and received the Award of Honour from the Canadian Medical Association in 2006. Her contribution to the Canadian program was recognized by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport in 2012. She also received the Hommage Jacques-Beauchamp award from Sports Québec in 2017.

She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2018 “for her incessant fight
against doping in sports.” That same year, she received an Hommage du 50e anniversaire medal from the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie. More recently, she was awarded the 2024 Prix René Dussault by the Conseil interprofessionnel du Québec (CIQ) in recognition of her prestigious career.

Preparing for a successful transition

For several years now, Christiane Ayotte has been preparing her replacement, INRS associate professor Jean-François Naud, to take over at the Doping Control Laboratory. This transfer of knowledge is testimony to the professionalism she has
demonstrated throughout her entire career.

Professeur Jean-François Naud

“It’s an honour to continue the work Christiane has been doing for decades. It’s a great mark of confidence on her part to leave me ‘her’ laboratory, and I hope to uphold the highest standards of quality and integrity that have made our reputation”

Professor Jean-François Naud, Director of the Doping Control Laboratory.

Professor Naud plays an essential role in researching and understanding
doping detection methods in sports. His expertise is in proteins and peptic
hormones, including erythropoietin (EPO), a molecule that stimulates the production of red blood cells, the derivatives of which can be used as doping
agents in top-level sports. The researcher also participates as an expert on some of WADA’s scientific committees, and heads the Athlete Biological Passport management unit for the INRS laboratory.

“Christiane has passed on her dedication and knowledge to us over the
years. We are continuing our fight against doping in sports with a solid team
of scientists who truly care about their work,” concludes Professor Naud.