Endocrine Abstracts (2008) 16 S18.2

Doping with androgens

Wilhelm Schänzer


German Sport University, Cologne, Germany.


Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are known to be misused both in competitive and in non-competive sports. As AAS stimulate protein synthesis in muscle cells, athletes expect performance-enhancing effects beyond that brought about by training alone. In 1974 the IOC and the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) first banned the use of AAS. This prohibition encompassed only synthetic steroids, such as metandienone, stanozolol etc. and the misuse of endogenous steroids, e.g. testosterone, was not restricted. As AAS are not used directly during competition but rather during training to increase muscle strength, athletes stopped administration of AAS before competition, switching to AAS such as testosterone, which were not banned at that time. Based on results from the Olympic Games 1980 in Moscow testosterone was banned in 1984.

To control the misuse of synthetic AAS nowadays urine samples of athletes collected after competition events or out of competition were tested by gas chromatography in combination with mass spectrometry (GC/MS).

The control of testosterone misuse is rather difficult as the identification of this androgen by MS is not sufficient to report a doping offence. An analytical method to prove testosterone abuse has unambiguously to distinguish between endogenous production and exogenous application of testosterone. This challenge was successfully solved by quantitative analysis of urinary excreted testosterone in comparison to its isomer epitestosterone (testosterone/epitestosterone quotient). Elevated T/E-ratios are considered as suspicious for testosterone misuse. Such biological samples are further analysed by isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) of carbon 13C/12C which allows to verify the origin of testosterone and its main metabolites.

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