Tobias Langer, Raul Nicoli, Carine Schweizer‐Grundisch, Silke Grabherr, Tiia Kuuranne, Alessandro Musenga

Comparison of analytical approaches for the detection of oral testosterone undecanoate administration in men

  • Spectroscopy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry

AbstractFor antidoping laboratories, the determination of an illicit testosterone (T) administration in urine samples remains a difficult process as it requires the determination of the exogenous origin by carbon isotope ratios (CIRs) of testosterone and its metabolites. As a complement to the urinary analysis, targeting testosterone esters (e.g. testosterone undecanoate [TU]) in serum samples by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) could represent a simpler approach compared with isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS). These two approaches both lead to the direct detection of the administration of exogenous T but with a difference in effort and complexity of the analysis. To compare the detection window obtained with the two strategies, serum and the corresponding urine samples collected from an administration study with oral TU were analysed. Results showed that, at all timepoints where the intact TU was detected in serum, the CIRs of urinary steroids were also not in agreement with an endogenous origin. IRMS analysis required more effort but resulted in slightly longer detection windows than the ester analysis. Finally, this comparison study showed that, in the presence of a suspicious urinary steroid profile, the LC–MS/MS steroid esters analysis in the corresponding serum samples can be very helpful. If steroid esters are not detected, the IRMS analysis can then be conducted on the urine sample afterwards. Overall, the combination of matrices might facilitate the detection of prohibited T administration in sports, especially for athletes with naturally low T/E ratios.

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