Blood in Sports Drug Testing: Biological Matrix and Doping Agents

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Blood is essential for many biological functions in humans, most notably oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells. Millions of red blood cell concentrates are transfused every year to treat anemia and acute blood losses. In addition to their therapeutic uses, blood transfusions are also employed for performance enhancement in professional sports, especially in endurance disciplines, where improved oxygen delivery capacity can provide a distinct competitive advantage. The detection of autologous blood transfusion use remains a considerable analytical challenge for anti-doping laboratories. Blood is not only a potent performance-enhancing agent, but is also an important biological matrix for the detection of numerous drugs in elite athletes. In this narrative review, the significance of blood for sports drug testing will be discussed – both regarding blood doping and as indispensable sample matrix.
The authors thank the Manfred-Donike Institute for Doping Analysis (Cologne, Germany) and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Community and Building (Berlin, Germany) for supporting the presented work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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