Steroids Testing Now Uses Technology that Performs Isotope Ratio Tests

After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the use of anabolic steroids among competing athletes, professional sports leagues in the US followed suit. Coupled with the unfair advantage gained by steroid users, the emerging side effects including cases of fatalities linked to steroids-use, made it more important to ban anabolic steroids among users.

Moreover, the IOC, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Football League also banned substances identified as steroid precursors, also known as prohormones because such drugs have the ability to take form as anabolic steroids once absorbed by the human body.

Steroid-Testing Required Simple Technology

Despite strict implementation of rules prohibiting steroids, not a few athletes have been stripped of their medals, or banned to play in their sports league after having tested positive for traces of steroids in their bloodstream. The testing method and technology used was simple, usually involving urine and hair follicle analysis.

However, anabolic steroids are not regarded as controlled substances in other countries, which made the procurement of the prohibited substance possible in the black market. In addition, the introduction of substances known as steroid precursor and different forms of bodybuilding supplements, somehow allowed the continuous use and misuse of anabolic steroids.

In order to impose stricter policies against organizations that continue to allow steroid use among athletes, governments and sports organization across the globe formed an alliance called the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 1999. Aside from its goal of standardizing anti-doping policies, the WADA also made it their policy to impose sanctions on any sports outfit or club found to have been represented by confirmed steroid users.

 

WADA Builds an Anti-Doping Lab with Improved Technologies

Testing of urine samples became centralized as those collected from participating athletes are sent to the WADA lab in Montreal Canada. Here, a urinalysis is performed in 2 stages, the first of which determines if steroid metabolites and high levels of testosterones are present in the subject’s blood. If the ratio of testosterone found is higher than another naturally occurring hormone called epitestosterone, to which the ideal is 1:1, the urine sample requires proceeding to the second testing.

 

In the event the second testing also confirms the presence of anabolic steroids, a more sophisticated technology will be used to perform isotope ratio analysis. This test is said to involve measurement of a rarely occurring isotope called carbon-13. The test basically aims to detect and measure the number of carbon-13 isotopes present in the sample. Carbon-13 is said to be a rarely occurring hormone, which if resulting in high numbers after an isotope radio test, will confirm the presence of chemicaĺly processes anabolic steroids.