How Do Athletes Get Tested For Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic steroids. They are known for their property of enhancing the performance of athletes. Though athletes seem to benefit from them, they cannot ignore the risks associated with anabolic steroids. Not only that, using anabolic steroids is an unethical practice. Many international sports organizations prohibit the use of anabolic steroids.

Why Do Athletes Use Anabolic Steroids?

The world of sports is quite competitive. An athlete might take the help of anabolic steroids to face the challenges of the sports world without caring about the harmful effects. Athletes take anabolic steroids because of the following reasons:

  • Building of muscles.
  • Improvement in physical strength.
  • Less wear and tear of muscles after a tough game.

Are Anabolic Steroids Harmful?

Though anabolic steroids might interest athletes due to their effect on performance, there are certain risks of using them, such as:

  • Causing liver damage.
  • Developing aggressive behaviour.
  • Risk of developing tendinitis. [1]

What Are The Tests For Anabolic Steroids?

Specific analytical tests are done in laboratories to test anabolic steroids. Athletes provide their urine and blood samples to get tested on to detect anabolic steroids in their system. Here are the three tests performed by professionals to detect anabolic steroids.

1.Gas Chromatography With Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)

GC-MS is a common technique used in laboratories to detect anabolic steroids in the urine. It is an effective quantitative technique that can identify many steroid metabolites. The urine sample will go through specific pre-analytical procedures before the GC-MS; preparing the urine sample for GC-MS is a lengthy process, requiring effort and time.

Pre-analytical preparation of the sample includes extraction and derivatization. Derivatization is done to increase the sensitivity of the technique. Moreover, it also serves to change the properties of the analyte so that better separation can be achieved. Overall, the sample preparation helps to achieve an accurate result.

2. Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)

LC-MS/MS is used for the detection of steroids in the urine and blood samples. It can make a quantitative analysis of many metabolites of steroids. Therefore, it is as effective as GC-MS. Moreover, LC-MS is not a cumbersome technique, as the samples do not have to go through derivatization. [2]

Liquid chromatography separates the analytes through a combination of stationary phase and mobile phase. Mass spectrometry creates ionized particles, which helps in quantifying compounds. Liquid chromatography’s separation power and mass spectrometry’s ability to quantify compounds make LC-MS/MS an efficient technique that laboratories often use. [3]

3. Gas Chromatography Combustion Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (GC-C-IRMS)

GC-C-IRMS helps in distinguishing between endogenous and exogenous steroids. There is a mixture of normal body steroids and anabolic steroids present in the urine sample. By analyzing the carbon isotope ratio of the steroids, GC-C-IRMS identifies the two types of steroids in the urine.

Besides carbon isotopes, laboratories also use nitrogen and hydrogen isotopes. To attain results via GC-C-IRMS, the compounds present in the sample need to be thermally stable and volatile. Not only that, the laboratories need to run the sample through the derivatization process for accurate results. [4]




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