New German test for steroids. (Read 58 times)

    Reuters (the news agency) reported on Nov. 19th that German researchers had developed and successfully used a new test procedure capable of detecting smaller amounts of steroids and for a longer time after use, and that this test is being used to retest frozen samples taken from athletes at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.


    This development seems to have potential to make cheating less attractive in various competitive individual and team sports where it has been a problem. This would include track and field, swimming, cycling and  team sports such as baseball and football, among others.


    As a fan of clean sport I would like to learn more about this new test, how it works, and what the limitations may be.

    Unfortunately I have zero knowledge of pharmacy or biology, but have tried to become better informed by reading. I am hoping people who know more about this subject will provide more information.


    What I (think) I know so far:

    1)  Steroids are a broad class of drugs usually having both anabolic  and androgenic effects in various proportions. Anabolic refers to cellular level effects such as stimulating production of red blood cells or improving bone density, while androgenic effects are those which promote masculine characteristics such as increased muscle mass.

    2) Testing for steroids is done by urinalysis, the presence of certain metabolites revealing use of steroids. How long these metabolites remain in the urine depends on the type of steroid used and the dosage. Older products like dianobol may show traces for a period of months after use has been discontinued, newer products like clenbuterol will clear in a few days.

    Masking agents in the form of diuretics can be used to mask or hide the presence of the metabolites.

    3)The  test most commonly used seems to be a "carbon isotope ratio" test which apparently indicates positive by showing "four rings". Whether this is a chromatography test or how it works I do not know. How the new test differs I do not know.

    4) The testing currently being done using this new protocol is apparently funded by NADA, the German anti-doping agency, at the request of the International Olympic Committee and with the support of WADA (World Anti Doping Agency.)It is focused mainly on frozen samples from the 2006 Torino Olympics, but as many as 3,500 tests may have been done and anywhere from 100 to 266 positives have been reported by different sources.

    5)The substances reported as detected so far seem to be very early (and perhaps primitive) products, Stanazolol which was most famously used by Ben Johnson at Seoul, and Oral Turinabol, apparently used in the 1970's by the East Germans. Why would these steroids still be in use-or is it a limitation of the new test that newer substances still cannot be detected?

    6) The test seems to detect only steroids, not EPO, HGH, SARMS, blood doping, masking agents or stimulants. Presumably most users would not be endurance athletes?


    Finally, does this new test have the potential to catch or clear athletes around whom suspicion and cotroversy have swirled, such as Ye Shiwen the young Chinese swimmer whose last lap in the 400m Individual Medley was faster than Ryan Lochte's, or Chris Froome, who set record times on climbs (Galibier? Mont Ventoux? I forget.)

    I welcome any further information or corrections to what I have written. Thanks!

    PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                        10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.



      As a fan of clean sport 

      I'm afraid I've given up on clean professional sports. I like the NFL as much as the next guy, but looking at their builds, their quick recovery from week to week, etc. and I'd be surprised if there were a lot of "clean" players.


      Similarly with track and field, I doubt there are a lot of clean, elite athletes. Sorry to be a cynic, but I think the testing agencies will always lag behind.