Steroid doping tests ignore vital ethnic differences in hormone activity

Mar 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)

Explore further: What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

AT&T to put 8,000 natural-gas vehicles on road

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- AT&T Inc. said Wednesday it will spend up to $350 million over five years to buy more than 8,000 Ford Motor Co. vans and trucks, then convert them to run on compressed natural gas.

More evidence prostate tests overdiagnose cancer

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- As many as two of every five men whose prostate cancer was caught through a PSA screening test have tumors too slow-growing to ever be a threat, says a new study that raises more questions about the controversial ...

The changing roles of mothers and fathers

Mar 10, 2009

Elvire Vaucher is a professor at the Université de Montréal School of Optometry. Her husband is an artist who works from home. Upon the birth of their second child in 2003, she took only three months maternity ...

Researcher tags genes linked to disc degeneration

Mar 11, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Lumbar disc degeneration is an uncomfortable condition that affects millions of people, but two University of Alberta researchers have identified some of the genes that are causing problems. ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...