Current Insights into the Steroidal Module of the Athlete Biological Passport

Thomas Piper, Hans Geyer, Nadine Haenelt, Frank Huelsemann, Wilhelm Schaenzer, Mario Thevis

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


For decades, the class of anabolic androgenic steroids has represented the most frequently detected doping agents in athletes' urine samples. Roughly 50% of all adverse analytical findings per year can be attributed to anabolic androgenic steroids, of which about 2/3 are synthetic exogenous steroids, where a qualitative analytical approach is sufficient for routine doping controls. For the remaining 1/3 of findings, caused by endogenous steroid-derived analytical test results, a more sophisticated quantitative approach is required, as their sheer presence in urine cannot be directly linked to an illicit administration. Here, the determination of urinary concentrations and concentration ratios proved to be a suitable tool to identify abnormal steroid profiles. Due to the large inter-individual variability of both concentrations and ratios, population-based thresholds demonstrated to be of limited practicability, leading to the introduction of the steroidal module of the Athlete Biological Passport. The passport enabled the generation of athlete-specific individual reference ranges for steroid profile parameters. Besides an increase in sensitivity, several other aspects like sample substitution or numerous confounding factors affecting the steroid profile are addressed by the Athlete Biological Passport-based approach. This narrative review provides a comprehensive overview on current prospects, supporting professionals in sports drug testing and steroid physiology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of sports medicine
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)863-878
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 09.2021

Research areas and keywords

  • anabolic steroids
  • analytical chemistry
  • doping
  • isotope ratio mass spectrometry
  • isotopes
  • nutritional supplements
  • steroids


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