Detection of the arylpropionamide-derived selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) S-4 (Andarine) in a black-market product

Drug Test Anal. 2009 Aug;1(8):387-92. doi: 10.1002/dta.91.


Non-steroidal and tissue-selective anabolic agents such as selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) represent a promising class of therapeutics for the treatment of various diseases such as sarcopenia or cancer cachexia. Advanced compounds of SARMs are based on an arylpropionamide-derived structure and leading drug candidates have successfully completed phase-II-clinical trials. Although none of these therapeutics have been approved, their performance-enhancing qualities and the black-market availability of these products makes them a viable target for misuse in the athletic community. In 2008, SARMs were added to the Prohibited List established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). That SARMs are the subject of misuse even without clinical approval was proved for the first time by the detection of the drug candidate Andarine (also referred to as S-4, S-3-(4-acetylamino-phenoxy)-2-hydroxy-2-methyl-N-(4-nitro-3-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)-propionamide), advertised, sold and supplied via the Internet. The oily liquids, declared as green tea extracts and face moisturizer, were assayed using state-of-the-art analytical procedures and S-4 was found at concentrations of approximately 150 mg/mL. The authenticity of the product was demonstrated in comparison to reference material by liquid chromatography, high resolution/high accuracy (tandem) mass spectrometry using positive and negative electrospray ionization, and comparison to reference material. Moreover, an impurity resulting from poor product purification was detected, accounting for approximately 10% of S-4. This consisted of 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-N-(4-nitro-3-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)-3-(4-nitro-3-trifluoromethyl-phenylamino)-propionamide. The ease of purchasing non-approved drug candidates that could potentially increase athletic performance demonstrates the need to operate proactively in the continued fight against doping. The early inclusion of emerging drugs into routine sports drug testing procedures is a key element of preventive doping research, limiting the options for cheating athletes who aim to undermine the doping control system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / isolation & purification*
  • Androgens / isolation & purification*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Doping in Sports
  • Internet
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations