Identification of black market products and potential doping agents in Germany 2010-2013

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


PURPOSE: The desire to increase the athletic performance, to 'optimize' an individual's appearance, and to complement but also to arguably substitute exercise by means of drugs and drug candidates has generated a considerable (illicit) market for compounds such as anabolic-androgenic steroids, stimulants, growth promoting peptide hormones, and so on. Genuinely developed for therapeutic use, their abuse/misuse generates enormous health risks, which has necessitated comprehensive controls of compound trafficking by customs and anti-doping authorities.

METHODS: From 2012 to 2013, the Bureau of Customs Investigation confiscated products containing anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS; 259 kg), stimulants (13 kg), selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs; 24 kg), and human growth hormone (hGH; 3500 ampules). In cooperation with the Bureau and under the umbrella of the European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents (EuMoCEDA), the Cologne Anti-Doping Laboratory analyzed an additional 337 (black market) products between 2010 and 2013, allowing to monitor developments in drug use and, hence, the anticipation of new challenges in sports drug testing. Main tools utilized in characterizing confiscated materials were liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS), gas chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (GC-HRMS), and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) with subsequent bottom-up identification of peptidic compounds using nano liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (nanoLC-MS/MS).

RESULTS: Among the 337 substances analyzed in the doping control laboratory in Cologne, 67 active ingredients were found, 49 of which being categorized as doping agents by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). A total of 83.7 % accounted for steroidal substances (predominantly testosterone, trenbolone, and nandrolone and corresponding esters), 12.8 % accounted for peptide hormones and growth factors (predominantly hGH and growth hormone releasing peptides (GHRPs)), 3.2 % of the products contained hormones and metabolic modulators, and 0.3 % accounted for diuretic agents. Outstanding findings were the detection of the selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) LGD-4033, the thymic hormone thymosin β4, and a fusion protein of unknown biological activity.

CONCLUSIONS: Trafficking of considerable amounts of arguably performance and/or body-enhancing compounds has been observed during the past 4 years, the majority of which is categorized as relevant to sports drug testing. Several substances are of fake/non-approved nature and represent enormous health risks to the 'customer'.

ZeitschriftEuropean journal of clinical pharmacology
Seiten (von - bis)1303-11
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.11.2014


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