Steroid doping tests ignore vital ethnic differences in hormone activity

March 12, 2009

Current steroid (testosterone) doping tests should be scrapped for international sport, because they ignore vital ethnic differences in hormone activity, suggests research published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Testosterone, and other hormones that boost levels, such as growth hormone, are among the most widely abused performance enhancers used in sport, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Evidence of abuse is determined by the testosterone: epitestosterone ratio, or T:E ratio for short, in the urine. The threshold is set at above four for everyone, and confirmed by chemical analysis (gas chromatography).

To highlight the inadequacy of the current test, the researchers tested the steroid profiles of football players of different ethnicities, after they had deliberately added steroid to their urine samples.

They used gas chromatography, and took account of a variation (polymorphism) in the UGT2B17 gene.

Previous research has indicated that variations in this gene account for some of the differences in the urinary T:E ratio between of white and Asian ethnic backgrounds. The gene affects metabolism, and therefore the rate at which testosterone is passed out of the body into the urine.

They included 57 men of Black African ; 32 of Asian origin; 32 of Hispanic origin; and 50 of white (Caucasian) origin in their research. All the men were aged between 18 and 36.

The results revealed the in almost one in four (22%) of the African footballers; in eight out 10 (81%) of the Asian players; one in 10 of the white men, and in 7% of the Hispanic players.

Based on these findings, the Swiss researchers "recalibrated" the thresholds for each ethnic group.

The new T:E ratios were: 5.6 for men of African origin; 5.7 for white men, and 5.8 for men of Hispanic origin. For men of Asian origin, the ratio was 3.8.

A single indiscriminate threshold to pick up in international sport is "not fit for purpose," the authors conclude. Instead, the reference ranges should be tailored to an athlete's individual endocrinological (hormonal) passport, they suggest.

"[Such a] passport may detect modifications induced by abuse of testosterone and its precursors, but also alterations in the steroid profile caused by indirect androgen doping products," they conclude.

Source: British Medical Journal (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.