Mass spectrometry in sports drug testing: Structure characterization and analytical assays

Mass Spectrom Rev. 2007 Jan-Feb;26(1):79-107. doi: 10.1002/mas.20107.


Owing to the sensitive, selective, and unambiguous nature of mass spectrometric analyses, chromatographic techniques interfaced to various kinds of mass spectrometers have become the most frequently employed strategy in the fight against doping. To obtain utmost confidence in analytical assays, mass spectrometric characterization of target analytes and typical dissociation pathways have been utilized as basis for the development of reliable and robust screening as well as confirmation procedures. Methods for qualitative and/or quantitative determinations of prohibited low and high molecular weight drugs have been established in doping control laboratories preferably employing gas or liquid chromatography combined with electron, chemical, or atmospheric pressure ionization followed by analyses using quadrupole, ion trap, linear ion trap, or hyphenated techniques. The versatility of modern mass spectrometers enable specific as well as comprehensive measurements allowing sports drug testing laboratories to determine the misuse of therapeutics such as anabolic-androgenic steroids, stimulants, masking agents or so-called designer drugs in athletes' blood or urine specimens, and a selection of recent developments is summarized in this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / urine
  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / urine
  • Diuretics / urine
  • Doping in Sports / classification
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Hormones / urine
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Narcotics / blood
  • Narcotics / urine
  • Sports Medicine / methods*
  • Steroids / urine
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Urinalysis / methods*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Diuretics
  • Hormones
  • Narcotics
  • Steroids