Mass spectrometry in sports drug testing-Analytical approaches and the athletes' exposome

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Test methods in anti-doping, most of which rely on the most modern mass spectrometric instrumentation, undergo continuous optimization in order to accommodate growing demands as to comprehensiveness, sensitivity, retrospectivity, cost-effectiveness, turnaround times, etc. While developing and improving analytical approaches is vital for appropriate sports drug testing programs, the combination of today's excellent analytical potential and the inevitable exposure of humans to complex environmental factors, specifically chemicals and drugs at the lowest levels, has necessitated dedicated research, particularly into the elite athlete's exposome. Being subjected to routine doping controls, athletes frequently undergo blood and/or urine tests for a plethora of drugs, chemicals, corresponding metabolic products, and various biomarkers. Due to the applicable anti-doping regulations, the presence of prohibited substances in an athlete's organism can constitute an anti-doping rule violation with severe consequences for the individual's career (in contrast to the general population), and frequently the question of whether the analytical data can assist in differentiating scenarios of 'doping' from 'contamination through inadvertent exposure' is raised. Hence, investigations into the athlete's exposome and how to distinguish between deliberate drug use and potential exposure scenarios have become a central topic of anti-doping research, aiming at supporting and consolidating the balance between essential analytical performance characteristics of doping control test methods and the mandate of protecting the clean athlete by exploiting new strategies in sampling and analyzing specimens for sports drug-testing purposes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports
Publication statusElectronically/ online published ahead of print - 2022


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