Designer steroids

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2010:(195):155-85. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-79088-4_7.


Anabolic steroids have been studied for over 50 years and during that time numerous compounds with a variety of functional groups have been produced and many have been published. Of these only a small number have been introduced to the pharmaceutical market. WADA has continued the work begun by the IOC banning the use of these agents within sport as performance enhancing substances. Athletes, however, continue to use these anabolic steroids but tighter testing and the introduction of unannounced sample collection has made this form of cheating harder.In order to try to evade detection, athletes who continue to dope are having to resort to the use of a far more dangerous form of drug - the designer steroid. These steroids are manufactured to closely resemble existing known compounds, but with sufficient chemical diversity to ensure that their detection by the WADA accredited laboratories is more difficult. A worrying feature of the use of these compounds is that no data is available to evaluate either the efficacy or the safety of these substances. Many such drugs are now being made in clandestine ways (as demonstrated by the recent BALCO case) and then passed on to athletes who become the guinea pigs determining the potential of the substances as doping agents.Methods for the detection of these new compounds are being developed using emerging techniques such as gas chromatography or liquid chromatography attached to a variety of mass spectrometry instruments. This technology as well as vigilance by laboratories and enforcement agencies can all help in early detection of designer steroids being used for doping.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Anabolic Agents / chemistry*
  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Designer Drugs / chemical synthesis
  • Designer Drugs / chemistry*
  • Designer Drugs / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Doping in Sports / methods*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Steroids / chemical synthesis
  • Steroids / chemistry*
  • Steroids / pharmacology*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Designer Drugs
  • Steroids