New Doping Test May Make It Easier to Catch Cheats -- June 2, 2003
By Phillip Whitten
LONDON, June 2. WOULD-BE drug cheats in sports may find the going a bit rougher in the very near future, Scottish researchers announced today.
Dr. Michael Rennie and his colleagues at Dundee University in Scotland reported today that they are developing a test to differentiate between endogenous testosterone, which occurs naturally in the body, and exogenous testosterone -- the pharmaceutically-manufactured testosterone that is found in anabolic steroids.
Rennie's team was supported by a $100,000 grant they received from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has had a spotty record in fighting doping since its establishment by the IOC in 1999.
The new test should make it easier to detect steroids and prove that their origin is exogenous.
Similar tests, however, are needed to differentiate between naturally-occurring and pharmaceutically-manufactured human growth hormone and insulin growth factors, which SwimInfo has learned are being widely used in many sports, including swimming.
The Scottish test works by identifying crucial differences between animal steroids produced in the body, and plant steroids, used by pharmaceutical companies to make the drugs.
Professor Rennie said the distinction is relatively simple to detect.
"Plants and animals have very different ways of making steroids," he said. "Both set of steroids are marked with a distinctive 'signature.'
"We are developing a method, using a very sensitive mass spectrometer, which can distinguish between the natural signatures carried by the carbon and hydrogen atoms in normal bodily testosterone and the testosterone which is made from plant material."