Nandrolone: a multi-faceted doping agent

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2010;(195):127-54. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-79088-4_6.


Nandrolone or nortestosterone, an anabolic-androgenic steroid, has been prohibited by doping control regulations for more than 30 years. Although its main metabolism in the human body was already known at that time, and detection of its misuse by gas or liquid chromatographic separation with mass spectrometric detection is straightforward, many interesting aspects regarding this doping agent have appeared since.Over the years, nandrolone preparations have kept their position among the prohibited substances that are most frequently detected in WADA-accredited laboratories. Their forms of application range from injectable fatty acid esters to orally administered nandrolone prohormones. The long detection window for nandrolone ester preparations and the appearance of orally available nandrolone precursors have changed the pattern of misuse.At the same time, more refined analytical methods with lowered detection limits led to new insights into the pharmacology of nandrolone and revelation of its natural production in the body.Possible contamination of nutritional supplements with nandrolone precursors, interference of nandrolone metabolism by other drugs and rarely occurring critical changes during storage of urine samples have to be taken into consideration when interpreting an analytical finding.A set of strict identification criteria, including a threshold limit, is applied to judge correctly an analytical finding of nandrolone metabolites. The possible influence of interfering drugs, urine storage or natural production is taken into account by applying appropriate rules and regulations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects
  • Anabolic Agents / analysis
  • Anabolic Agents / metabolism
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anabolic Agents / urine
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Drug Contamination
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Nandrolone / adverse effects
  • Nandrolone / analysis
  • Nandrolone / metabolism
  • Nandrolone / pharmacology*
  • Nandrolone / urine
  • Pregnancy
  • Progestins / pharmacology


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Anabolic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Progestins
  • Nandrolone