Detection of norbolethone, an anabolic steroid never marketed, in athletes' urine

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2002;16(13):1273-5. doi: 10.1002/rcm.722.


Norbolethone (13-ethyl-17-hydroxy-18,19-dinor-17alpha-pregn-4-en-3-one) is a 19-nor anabolic steroid first synthesized in 1966. During the 1960s it was administered to humans in efficacy studies concerned with short stature and underweight conditions. It has never been reported by doping control laboratories. Norbolethone was identified in two urine samples from one athlete by matching the mass spectra and chromatographic retention times with those of a reference standard. The samples also contained at least one likely metabolite. The samples were also unusual because the concentrations of endogenous steroids were exceptionally low. Since norbolethone is not known to be marketed by any pharmaceutical company, a clandestine source of norbolethone may exist.

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / urine*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Norpregnenes / urine*
  • Sports*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Norpregnenes
  • norbolethone